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Dev Psychol. 2002 Nov;38(6):958-66.

The importance of eyes: how infants interpret adult looking behavior.

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  • 1Center for Mind, Brain, and Learning, University of Washington, Seattle 98195-7920, USA.


Two studies assessed the gaze following of 12-, 14-, and 18-month-old infants. The experimental manipulation was whether an adult could see the targets. In Experiment 1, the adult turned to targets with either open or closed eyes. Infants at all ages looked at the adult's target more in the open- versus closed-eyes condition. In Experiment 2, an inanimate occluder, a blindfold, was compared with a headband control. Infants 14- and 18-months-old looked more at the adult's target in the headband condition. Infants were not simply responding to adult head turning, which was controlled, but were sensitive to the status of the adult's eyes. In the 2nd year, infants interpreted adult looking as object-directed--an act connecting the gazer and the object.

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