Publication 5930

Baillargeon R. (1994) How do infants learn about the physical world?. Current Directions in Psychological Science 3(5): 133–140. Fulltext at
My colleagues and I have begun to build a model of the development of young infants’ physical reasoning. The model is based on the assumption that infants are born not with substantive beliefs about objects (e.g., intuitive notions of impenetrability, continuity, or force), as researchers such as Spelke and Leslie have proposed, but with highly constrained mechanisms that guide the development of infants’ reasoning about objects. The model is derived from findings concerning infants’ intuitions about different physical phenomena (e.g., support, collision, and unveiling phenomena). Comparison of these findings points to two developmental patterns that recur across ages and phenomena. We assume that these patterns reflect, at least indirectly, the nature and properties of infants’ learning mechanisms. In this review, I describe the patterns and summarize some of the evidence supporting them.

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