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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Eight-Month-Old Infants’ Social Evaluations of Agents Who Act on False Beliefs


Do infants’ social evaluations privilege the outcomes of others’ actions, or the beliefs underlying those actions? In two experiments, 8-month-old infants viewed a protagonist who sought to grasp one of two toys, each inside a different box, as two other agents observed. Then, while the protagonist was away, the toys exchanged locations, either in the presence or absence of the two other agents. Thus, the agents had either true or false beliefs about the toys’ locations. When the protagonist returned, one agent opened the box that now contained the protagonist’s desired toy, whereas the other opened the box that previously contained that toy. When agents had true beliefs about the desired toy’s location, infants preferred the agent who opened the box containing that toy. When agents had false beliefs about that location, infants instead preferred the agent who opened the opposite box. Thus, infants' social evaluations privilege agents’ beliefs.

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