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The role of "means selection" and "outcome selection" information in infants' goal attribution

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Abstract: To interpret an observed action as goal-directed, one can make use of two types of information in a given situation. One type of information consists of the observation that the actor achieves the goal by adjusting the action to the situational constraints (“means selection”). The other type of information is the availability of alternative outcomes and the expression of a preference for a particular outcome by the actor’s action (“outcome selection”). I will talk about three studies in which we investigated the relationship between these two types of information in infants’ goal attribution using the violation of expectations technique and anticipatory eye-movement measures. Together, these studies suggest that if both types of information are present, but lead to different conclusions about the goal-directresses of the action, then means selection information takes primacy over outcome selection information in infants’ interpretation of actions.

Biography Szilvia Biro graduated from the Eotvos Lorand University, Hungary in 1998 and completed her PhD studies at Cambridge University, UK in 2002. She then became a postdoctoral fellow at the Center of Cognitive Science, Rutgers University, NJ, USA . Since 2006 she is an Assistant Professor at Leiden University, NL. Her current research focuses on social cognition in infancy.

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