You changed your mind! Infants interpret a change in word as signaling a change in an agent's goals

Kyong sun Jin, Hyun joo Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Language provides information about our psychological states. For instance, adults can use language to convey information about their goals or preferences. The current research examined whether 14- and 12-month-old infants could interpret a change in an agent's word as signaling a change in her goals. In two experiments, 14-month-olds (Experiment 1) and 12-month-olds (Experiment 2) were first familiarized to an event in which an agent uttered a novel word and then reached for one of two novel objects. During the test trials, the agent uttered a different novel word (different-word condition) or the same word (same-word condition) and then reached for the same object or the other object. Both 14- and 12-month-olds in the different-word condition expected the agent to change her goal and reach for the other object. In contrast, the infants in the same-word condition expected the agent to maintain her goal. In Experiment 3, 12-month-olds who heard two distinct sounds instead of the agent's novel words expected the agent to maintain her goal regardless of the change in the nonlinguistic sounds. Together, these results indicate that by 12 months of age infants can use an agent's verbal information to detect a change in her goals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-162
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Oct

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2015S1A3A2046711). We thank Lin Bian, Cynthia Lukyanenko, and Maayan Stavans for their suggestions on the manuscript, and we thank the parents and infants who participated in the research.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Inc.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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