Laboratoire Psychologie de la Perception Institut Neurosciences Cognition Université Paris Descartes Centre National de Recherche Scientifique
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Understanding the experimenter's intention improves 16-month-olds' observational learning in a novel tool use action

Our aim was to investigate why 16-month-old infants fail to master a novel tool-use action via observational learning. We hypothesized that 16-month-olds’ difficulties may be due to not understanding the goal of the observed action. To test this hypothesis, we investigated whether showing infants an explicit demonstration of the goal of the action before demonstrating the action would improve observational learning compared with a classic demonstration of the target action. We examined 16-month-old infants who observed a tool-use action consisting of grasping a rake-like tool to retrieve an out-of-reach toy, under five conditions. Only when infants were shown the goal of the action before demonstration did they show some success.