The infant as onlooker: learning from emotional reactions observed in a television scenario

Child Dev. Jan-Feb 2003;74(1):221-37. doi: 10.1111/1467-8624.00532.


Two studies investigated whether 10- and 12-month-olds can use televised emotional reactions to guide their behavior. Infants watched an actress orient toward 1 of 2 novel objects and react with neutral affect during baseline and with positive or negative affect during test. Infants then had 30 s to interact with the objects. In Study 1, 12-month-olds (N = 32) avoided the target object and showed increases in negative affect after observing the negative-emotion scenario. Twelve-month-olds' responses to positive vs. neutral signals did not differ significantly. In Study 2, 10-month-olds (N = 32) attended to the televised presentations but showed no consistent changes in their object interactions or affect. Thus, 12-month-olds used social information presented on television and associated emotional signals with the intended target.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Affect*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Behavior / psychology
  • Learning*
  • Male
  • Social Perception*
  • Television*
  • Visual Perception*