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Title:Perseveration and Problem Solving in Infancy: Reasoning About Containment Events in Two Violation -of -Expectation Tasks
Author(s):Aguiar, Andrea
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Baillargeon, Renée
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Psychology, Cognitive
Abstract:The present research investigated infants' perseverative errors in a violation-of-expectation containment task. In the first set of experiments, 6.5-month-old infants received familiarization trials followed by test trials. On alternate test trials, the infants saw two events in which a large ball was lowered repeatedly into a container that was slightly wider than (large-container event) or only half as wide as (small-container event) the ball. The results indicated that 6.5-month-old infants' success in detecting the violation in test depended on the type familiarization event they were shown. They failed when in familiarization, the ball was lowered into a very wide container and their widths could be compared qualitatively. In contrast, 6.5-month-old infants succeeded either when: (1) the widths of the ball and wide container had to be compared quantitatively; (2) the container was absent in the familiarization trials; (3) the back and bottom portions of the wide container were removed so that only its front remained, forming a rounded occluder; or (4) when the opening of the wide container was reduced so that the ball fit snugly into it. Together, these, results suggested that the 6.5-month-old infants in the wide-container qualitative task were perseverating in their reasoning: they brought forth the same containment expectation from familiarization to test ("the ball will go in the container"), and hence failed to detect the violation in the small-container event. Infants succeeded (1) when no such expectation was available, either because no container was used in familiarization or because infants were initially shown an occlusion rather than a containment event; or (2) when the width comparison in the task was more challenging and forced the infants to pay closer attention to the width of the container in each of the trials. In the second series of experiments, 7-month-olds' performance is examined and compared to that of the 6.5-month-olds. The present findings offer support for a recent model that explains infants' perseveration in terms of limitations in problem-solving abilities.
Issue Date:1999
Description:100 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1999.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI9952946
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:1999

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