Human infants' learning of social structures: The case of dominance hierarchy

TitleHuman infants' learning of social structures: The case of dominance hierarchy
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsMascaro, O., and G. Csibra
Journal titlePsychological Science
Year2014
Pages250-255
Volume25
Issue1
Abstract

This paper investigates whether human infants go beyond learning about individual social partners and their relations, and form hypotheses about how social groups are organized. We test 15-month-olds’ capacity to represent social dominance hierarchies with more than two agents. Infants find it harder to memorise dominance relations presented in an order that hinders the incremental formation of a single structure (Study 1). Thus, infants attempt to build structures incrementally, relation by relation, thereby simplifying the complex problem of recognizing a social structure. Infants also find circular dominance structures harder to process than linear ones (Study 2). These expectations about the shape of structures may facilitate learning. Our results suggest that infants attempt to represent social structures composed of social relations.

Languageenglish
DOI10.1177/0956797613500509
Publisher linkhttp://pss.sagepub.com/content/25/1/250
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