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.
|Advisor:||Spelke, Elizabeth S.|
|Commitee:||Carey, Susan, Snedeker, Jesse, Warneken, Felix|
|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|
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