Thursday, November 23, 2017
Interpretation of Goals, Intentions, and Dispositions

Recognizing and inferring the intentions, knowledge, and desires of others is ubiquitous, indeed necessary, in our social lives. It is no wonder, then, that the development of these abilities has been the focus of a large body of research over the last two decades. Most of this research has focused on the young child, examining such skills as false belief recognition. However, we know very little about the underlying precursors to mental state attribution.  We are examining the nature of infants’ understanding of goal directed behavior by asking:

- When in development does this system allow for the interpretation of new goals based on previous behavior? We have approached this question in a series of experiments testing 9- and 12-month-olds’ interpretation of the goal behavior of computer-animated agents. The research suggests that not only can infants recognize goal-related action, but they can also interpret future actions of an actor on the basis of previously witnessed behavior in another context.

- When a goal is detected, is it specific to a given agent? Currently, we are examining whether infants define these goals as specific to a particular agent, or if all agents are expected to have similar goals.

Relevant Publications:

Kuhlmeier, V.A., Wynn, K., & Bloom, P.  (revision under review). Nine- and 12-month-olds interpret goal-directed actions based on past interactions.
Manuscript submitted for publication.

Kuhlmeier, V.A., Wynn, K., & Bloom, P. (2003). Attribution of Dispositional States by 12-month-olds.
Psychological Science, 14, 402-408.

Yamaguchi, M., Kuhlmeier, V.A., Wynn, K., & vanMarle, K. (in press).  Continuity in Social Cognition from Infancy to Childhood. 
Developmental Science.

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