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Are Infants Altercentric? The Other and the Self in Early Social Cognition

Are Infants Altercentric? The Other and the Self in Early Social Cognition From early in life, human infants appear capable of taking others’ perspectives, and can do so even when the other’s perspective conflicts with the infant’s perspective. Infants’ success in perspective-taking contexts implies that they are managing conflicting perspectives despite a wealth of data suggesting that doing so relies on sufficiently mature Executive Functions, and is a challenge even for adults. In a new theory, I propose that infants can take other’s perspectives because they have an altercentric bias. This bias results from a combination of the value that human cognition places on others’ attention, and an absence of a competing self-perspective, which would, in older children, create a conflict requiring resolution by Executive Functions. A self-perspective emerges with the development of cognitive self-awareness, sometime in the second year of life, at which point it leads to competition between perspectives. This theory provides a way of explaining infants’ ability to take others’ perspectives, but raises the possibility that they could do so without representing or understanding the implications of perspective for others’ mental states. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Psychological Review American Psychological Association

Are Infants Altercentric? The Other and the Self in Early Social Cognition

Psychological Review , Volume 127 (4): 19 – Jul 23, 2020

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Publisher
American Psychological Association
Copyright
© 2019 American Psychological Association
ISSN
0033-295x
eISSN
1939-1471
DOI
10.1037/rev0000182
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

From early in life, human infants appear capable of taking others’ perspectives, and can do so even when the other’s perspective conflicts with the infant’s perspective. Infants’ success in perspective-taking contexts implies that they are managing conflicting perspectives despite a wealth of data suggesting that doing so relies on sufficiently mature Executive Functions, and is a challenge even for adults. In a new theory, I propose that infants can take other’s perspectives because they have an altercentric bias. This bias results from a combination of the value that human cognition places on others’ attention, and an absence of a competing self-perspective, which would, in older children, create a conflict requiring resolution by Executive Functions. A self-perspective emerges with the development of cognitive self-awareness, sometime in the second year of life, at which point it leads to competition between perspectives. This theory provides a way of explaining infants’ ability to take others’ perspectives, but raises the possibility that they could do so without representing or understanding the implications of perspective for others’ mental states.

Journal

Psychological ReviewAmerican Psychological Association

Published: Jul 23, 2020

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