Studying a baby’s mind may perhaps be one of the most difficult tasks in the field of psychology. After all, unlike adults, babies can’t speak up to describe what their thoughts or emotions are. At this age, the channels of communication are only limited to a few syllables, laughs, giggles, and cries. Nevertheless, we adults strive to understand how our minds develop from this age to what they are today.
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A new clue comes from research recently published in PLOS One, which shows that six-month-olds can recognize when they are being imitated.
According to the study, the experience of being imitated provides infants the scaffolding for their social cognition. When infants see their actions mimicked, it leads them to realize that these actions have social consequences. They learn that movements, vocalizations, and facial expressions cause others around them to behave in certain ways. It’s much like how they’ll later experiment with cause and effect by banging about blocks.
The researchers found that the closer they emulated a baby, the longer they held his or her attention. Such imitation was also correlated with more smiling and a greater desire to approach the researcher.
More details about this over at BigThink.
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