12-Month Old Infants Respond to Talk About Absent Objects

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When Familiar Is Not Better: 12-Month Old Infants Respond to Talk About Absent Objects In this experiment they hypothesize that it should be easier for infants to represent a hidden object when it is familiar than when it is new. They also hypothesized, the novelty preference hypothesis makes familiar toys less attractive and decreases infants’ motivation to reestablish contact with them and that leads to poor responsiveness. Another hypothesis, known as the location conflict hypothesis, was that infants’ memory about a familiar objects prior location at home interferes with their ability to respond to absent reference to that object in the lab.

The experiment consisted of twelve 12 month olds in three different phases. The materials they used were two identically shaped and same size ottomans of different colors (one black and one brown), a familiar stuffed animal from home and a new stuffed animal from the lab. The independent variable was the stuffed animal (hidden object) and the dependent variable was the response to finding the absent object such as looking at, pointing to, or approaching the absent toy. The first phase was the play phase, which was 1 minute long and gave the infant experience with the object and its label. The toy would then be taken from the child and hidden in one of the ottomans. Next was the time delay phase, which was 45-50 seconds long to divert the infants’ attention from the hiding location. The third phase was the testing phase where the experimenter probed the infant for their ability to locate the hidden stuffed animal.

Results showed that infants spent more time engaged in communicative behaviors toward new stimuli then familiar stimuli. 11 out of 12 infants responded to the new toy and 6 out of 12 responded to the familiar toy. Infants did not engage in target behaviors before the experimenter’s verbal request. The infants’ who had produced a target behavior had only done so after being asked 3-5 times. Looking at,...
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