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Title: Infants' developing use of body information in forming categorical representations of human and non-human animals
Author: Axelsson, Emma Linnea
ISNI:       0000 0004 2700 831X
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2009
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Infants' developing representations of bodies were investigated in four studies. Based on previous research (Quinn & Eimas, 1996a; Spencer, Quinn, Johnson, & Karmiloff-Smith, 1997), the main aim was to investigate the role of featural information from heads and in particular bodies in infants' category formations of human and non-human animals; and how this may change with age. Findings from an exploratory study (Study 1) suggested that 7- and 9-, but not 5-month-olds may be sensitive to body information when forming categories of both human and non-human animals. This was investigated further (Study 3) with 5- and 7-month-olds who were familiarised to typical images of human or non-human animals. Infants were subsequently presented with a novel image from the familiarisation category paired with a 'crossed' stimulus. This image was made up of a head (of the familiarisation category) on a novel category body. Thus, after familiarisation to a category, the novel category was presented in the body of the crossed stimulus. Only the 7-month-olds familiarised to non-human animals looked significantly longer at the crossed stimuli with a human body suggesting they may have attended to body information. After familiarisation to humans, 5- and 7-month-olds did not show any preferences, but a further sample of 9-month-olds did. Thus, there may be asymmetries in the development of infants' category formations with regards to body information until 9 months of age. A separate test assessing infants' a priori preferences (Study 2) suggested that infants' did not find typical or crossed stimuli more attractive. Study 4 explored the relationship between categorisation performance, and infants' motor development, mental development, and level of pre-exposure to non-human animals. No clear relationships were found. The findings suggest that infants use body information to form categories from 7 months but there are asymmetries in the use of human and non-human animal body information until 9 months of age. These issues are discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available