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Is an infant a people person?

journal contribution
posted on 01.11.2004, 00:00 by David Rakison, Jessica B. Cicchino

Kuhlmeier, Bloom, and Wynn (2004) presented interesting data that purport to show that 5-month olds apply the constraint of continuous motion to objects but not to people. They propose, based on these data, that humans are interpreted in terms of social actions whereas inanimate objects are construed in terms of object physics. We believe that care must be taken, however, before strong conclusions can be drawn from their empirical findings. We also find their proposal fails to address an important developmental issue, namely, what mechanism might underlie infants' ability to learn about people, animates more generally, and inanimates. We address these issues in turn.