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Dev Psychol. 2008 Sep;44(5):1257-65. doi: 10.1037/a0012888.

Self-experience as a mechanism for learning about others: a training study in social cognition.

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  • 1Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, USA. meltzoff@u.washington.edu


Using a gaze-following task, the authors assessed whether self-experience with the view-obstructing properties of blindfolds influenced infants' understanding of this effect in others. In Experiment 1, 12-month-olds provided with blindfold self-experience behaved as though they understood that a person wearing a blindfold cannot see. When a blindfolded adult turned to face an object, these infants gaze followed significantly less than control infants who had either (a) seen and felt the blindfold but whose view had not been obstructed by it or (b) experienced a windowed blindfold through which they could see. In Experiment 2, 18-month-olds experienced either (a) a trick blindfold that looked opaque but could be seen through, (b) an opaque blindfold, or (c) baseline familiarization. Infants receiving trick-blindfold experience now followed a blindfolded adult's gaze significantly more than controls. The authors propose 3 mechanisms underlying infants' capacity to use self-experience as a framework for understanding the visual perception of others.

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