Magazine article Science News

Blindfolded Babies Show Ability to Learn How Others See the World: Personal Experience Leads to Social Thinking in 1-Year-Olds

Magazine article Science News

Blindfolded Babies Show Ability to Learn How Others See the World: Personal Experience Leads to Social Thinking in 1-Year-Olds

Article excerpt

Infants make sense of the social world from the inside out. By age 1, kids rapidly incorporate visual experiences into a framework for understanding what other people can or can't see, a new study finds.

Personal experience enables social thinking in early childhood, say Andrew Meltzoff and Rechele Brooks, both of the University of Washington in Seattle.

In their experiments, blocking the vision of 1-year-olds with a blindfold led the youngsters to appreciate that a blindfolded adult couldn't see toys on a table, an insight that usually eludes 1-year-olds.

Brief use of a trick, see-through blindfold led 18-month-olds to assume that a blindfolded adult could see objects in plain view, even though 18-month-old children rarely make such a mistake.

"This first-of-its-kind training study shows how infants use themselves and their own experiences to understand the inner lives of others," Meltzoff says. He and colleagues report their work in the September Developmental Psychology.

Speculation that children's actions and experiences shape social cognition extends back more than 50 years, to Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget. Yet little research has explored how personal experiences animate social learning, says psychologist Amanda Woodward of the University of Maryland in College Park.

"Meltzoff and Brooks have conducted one of the first successful efforts to study this phenomenon in the lab," she says.

In the main experiment, 96 healthy 1-year-olds played with pieces of black cloth that had been placed under toys on a table. …

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