Do Infants Generalize Other People's Emotional Dispositions Across Contexts?
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This study explored 15-month-old infants' ability to attribute emotional dispositions to others. Infants (N = 72) participated in three Emotional Eavesdropping trials in which they saw an Experimenter demonstrate an action on an object. Another adult (the Emoter) expressed Anger or Neutral affect toward the Experimenter, in response to her action, and then infants were given access to the object. Trials 2 and 3 followed the same procedure but with different object-action pairs. Infants then participated in three Social-Interaction tasks in which they had an opportunity to give toys to the (now neutral) Emoter. In the eavesdropping trials, infants in the Anger condition were loath to touch the objects and less likely to perform the actions relative to those in the Neutral condition. In the Social-Interaction tasks, infants in the Anger condition were likewise hesitant to touch the toys. The findings suggest that, during the eavesdropping trials, infants began to view the Emoter as "anger prone" and then generalized this disposition to a new social context. Thus, 15-month-old infants already possess some of the social-cognitive skills that provide the foundation for later trait attribution.
- Psychology