Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Infants' Understanding of Social Affiliation and Behavioral Conformity
by Powell, Lindsey J., Ph.D., Harvard University, 2012, 139; 3543001
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation engages in two major hypotheses regarding infants’ naïve theory of social relationships. First, it proposes that infants may apply a domain-specific understanding to represent and reason about social groups defined by affiliation amongst their members. Second, it argues that infants may have an understanding of the causal role that behavioral conformity plays in promoting affiliation, and that this understanding may help to determine how infants reason about the coalitional social groups referred to in the first hypothesis. Experiments across three chapters address different aspects of these hypotheses. The experiments in Chapter 2 ask whether infants selectively use coalitional groups to make certain sorts of behavioral inferences, in contrast to the inferences they draw regarding other animate and inanimate categories. The experiments in Chapter 3 investigate the role of similarity of appearance in infants’ representations of coalitional groups. Finally, the experiments in Chapter 4 look at how infants evaluate behavioral conformity and what they think it indicates about the attitudes of conformers and their targets. Chapter 5 synthesizes this work and discusses how it might apply to the study of imitation in both developmental and comparative fields.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Spelke, Elizabeth S.
Commitee: Carey, Susan, Snedeker, Jesse, Warneken, Felix
School: Harvard University
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: DAI-B 74/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social psychology, Developmental psychology, Cognitive psychology
Keywords: Behavioral conformity, Cognitive development, Social affiliation
Publication Number: 3543001
ISBN: 9781267714978
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