Publications of Revencu, B.

For 19-month-olds, what happens on the screen stays on the screen

Fictional entities in animations and puppet shows are widely used in infancy research, and there is plenty of evidence suggesting that infants are able to make inferences about them (e.g., ascribing agency to self-propelled 2-D figures). In the present set of experiments, we asked whether 19-month-olds take what they see on the screen to be happening in the here and now, or whether they think that on-screen events are spatiotemporally decoupled from the immediate environment. We found that infants do not expect an animated ball falling on a screen to end up in real boxes below the screen, even though they can track the ball (i) when the ball is real, and (ii) when the boxes are also part of the animation. These findings indicate that infants separate animations from the surrounding environment and cast doubt on the assumption that infants are naïve realists about iconic representations.