Out of sight - out of mind? [Elektronische Ressource] : object representation in early childhood with focus on the ability to individuate moving objects / vorgelegt von Lysett Babocsai

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PSYCHOLOGISCHES INSTITUT DER UNIVERSITÄT HEIDELBERG “OUT OF SIGHT – OUT OF MIND?” OBJECT REPRESENTATION IN EARLY CHILDHOOD WITH FOCUS ON THE ABILITY TO INDIVIDUATE MOVING OBJECTS Dissertation zur Erlangung des Grades eines Dr. phil. der Fakultät für Verhaltens- und Empirische Kulturwissenschaften der Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg vorgelegt von LYSETT BABOCSAI NOVEMBER 2008 REVIEWERS: Prof. Dr. Sabina Pauen Psychologisches Institut der Universität Heidelberg Prof. Dr. Joachim Funke Psychologisches Institut der Universität Heidelberg THIS WORK IS DEDICATED TO MY PARENTS CATERINA UND UWE BABOCSAI We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time. T.S. Eliot ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Many thanks to everyone who supported me in this dissertation project. I am especially grateful to my friends and family who helped me to stay focused and encouraged me while I wrote this thesis.

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PSYCHOLOGISCHES INSTITUT DER UNIVERSITÄT HEIDELBERG






“OUT OF SIGHT – OUT OF MIND?”
OBJECT REPRESENTATION IN EARLY CHILDHOOD WITH FOCUS ON THE
ABILITY TO INDIVIDUATE MOVING OBJECTS






Dissertation zur Erlangung des Grades eines Dr. phil.
der Fakultät für Verhaltens- und Empirische Kulturwissenschaften
der Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
vorgelegt von


LYSETT BABOCSAI






NOVEMBER 2008
REVIEWERS: Prof. Dr. Sabina Pauen
Psychologisches Institut der Universität Heidelberg

Prof. Dr. Joachim Funke
Psychologisches Institut der Universität Heidelberg
























































THIS WORK IS DEDICATED TO MY PARENTS CATERINA UND UWE BABOCSAI













































































We shall not cease from exploration.
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

T.S. Eliot
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS




Many thanks to everyone who supported me in this dissertation project.

I am especially grateful to my friends and family who helped me to stay
focused and encouraged me while I wrote this thesis. Thank you, Ralph Kohn,
Susanna Jeschonek, Sonja Puderwinski, Kirsten Bolm, Romy Henze, Sebastien
Pelletier, Costas Xanthopoulos, Alex Hoeft, and Mariah Schug for your friendship,
giving me strength, and accompanying me on this journey. I want to thank Gus Leotta
as well as my parents, brother, and grandparents for their love, ongoing support,
believe in me, as well as their interest in my work.
Additionally, I want to thank my advisor Prof. Dr. Sabina Pauen for the
provision of resources making this work possible, her support, and comments on an
earlier draft of this thesis. Thanks to Prof. Dr. Joachim Funke for agreeing to review
this dissertation.
Further, many thanks to my colleagues Dr. Birgit Träuble, Dipl.-Psych.
Susanna Jeschonek, and Dipl.-Psych. Sonja Puderwinski, our secretary Christiane
Fauth, as well as the research assistants who were involved in these studies from the
research team of the infant lab at the University of Heidelberg. Thank you, Dr. Birgit
Träuble for your interest, motivation, assistance as well as our discussions regarding
this dissertation. Thank you, Dipl.-Psych. Susanna Jeschonek and Dipl.-Psych. Sonja
Puderwinski for all your help in the lab as well as your colleagueship. Thank you,
Christiane Fauth for recruitment and scheduling as well as always having a
sympathetic ear. I am very grateful to Kirsten Bolm, Vesna Miranovic, Alice Eger,
Ina Wegelin, Carolin Berude, and Susanne Falk for their help in running the
experiments and with coding.
I am indebted to the Dietmar-Hopp Foundation for their generous funding
without which this research would have not been possible. Lastly, I want to thank the
infants and parents who participated in the studies. Their enthusiasm and gift of time I
hope will further the field of developmental psychology and serve as a basis for future
investigations.










































CONTENT


Abstract i


I Introduction 1
THE NATURE OF OBJECT REPRESENTATION 1


II Theoretical Background 7
CHAPTER 1 ASPECTS OF OBJECT REPRESENTATION IN INFANCY 7

1.1 Object Segregation 8
1.2 Object Permanence 10
1.3 Object Individuation 13
1.4 Object Identification 17
1.5 Sumary 18

CHAPTER 2 THEORETICAL APPROACHES TO THE INFANTS’ SYSTEM OF OBJECT
INDIVIDUATION 20

2.1 The Object-first Hypothesis 23
2.2 Event Categorization 29
2.3 Theory of Different Kinds of Information 36
2.4 The Indexing Model 39
2.5 The Identity Theory 44
2.6 The Human-first Hypothesis 47
2.7 Resolution of Disputes 49
2.8 Summary 56

CHAPTER 3 MOTION INFORMATION AS KIND INFORMATION 58

3.1 Motion Perception in Early Childhood 58
3.2 Contribution of Motion to the Animate – Inanimate Distinction 61
3.3 Form – Motion Association 68
3.4 Sumary 71


I Empircal Part 73

CHAPTER 4 RESEARCH QUESTION AND STUDY APPROACH 73

4.1 Objectives 73
4.2 Hypothesi76
4.3 Implementation of the Research Question 77

CHAPTER 5 METHODOLOGY AND PARADIGM 81

5.1 Subjects 81
5.2 General Study Design 82
5.3 Overview of the Stimuli 82
5.4 Experimental Setting and Technical Setup 83
5.5 General Procedure 85

CHAPTER 6 EXPERIMENT 1 – NATURAL MATERIAL 87

6.1 Study Concept 87
6.2 Participants 87
6.3 Stimuli 88
6.4 Procedure
6.5 Scoring 90
6.6 Data Analysis 90
6.7 Result 91
6.8 Discussion of Results 98
6.9 Summary 102

CHAPTER 7 EXPERIMENT 2 – ABSTRACT MATERIAL 104

7.1 Study Concept 104
7.2 Participants 105
7.3 Stimuli
7.4 Procedure 106
7.5 Scoring 107
7.6 Data Analysis 108
7.7 Results 109
7.8 Discussion of Results 115
7.9 Summary 118

CHAPTER 8 EXPERIMENT 3 – BASELINE CONTROL 119

8.1 Study Concept 119
8.2 Participants 120
8.3 Stimuli
8.4 Procedure 120
8.5 Scoring 121
8.6 Data Analysis
8.7 Results 122
8.8 Discussion of Results 124
8.9 Summary 125

CHAPTER 9 EXPERIMENT 4 – SPATIOTEMPORAL CONDITION 126

9.1 Study Concept 126
9.2 Participants
9.3 Stimuli 126
9.4 Procedure 127
9.5 Scoring 9.6 Data Analysis 128
9.7 Results
9.8 Discussion of Results 134
9.9 Summary 135


IV Interpretational Part 136

CHAPTER 10 GENERAL DISCUSSION

10.1 Discussion of the Results 137
10.2 Future Directions and Conclusions 145


References 150


Appendices 172 i
ABSTRACT


A consistent pattern of results indicates that from an early age humans are
competent to represent objects and characterize them in terms of their properties, their
behaviors, as well as their involvement in actions and events. Thereby, infants’ event
knowledge not only consists of static information regarding the structure and form of
objects but also includes dynamic components. The comprehension of the dynamic
aspects of an event is essential in making decisions about the number of objects
involved or in judging whether a particular object seen at one time is the same object
as one viewed at a previous time. This problem is referred to as object individuation.
The study of object individuation demonstrates that infants employ a variety of
sources of information in this process. Despite its great importance in early infants’
perceptual and cognitive abilities, one particular source of dynamic information has
been unexplored in the occurrence of object individuation. The present work is
concerned with the role domain-specific motion plays in infants’ understanding of
events and its impact on object individuation.
The following four experiments investigated 10- and 12-month-old infants’
ability to recall how many objects were involved in a motion event by means of
domain-specific motion cues (animate-inanimate) the objects provided. Using an
adapted version of the Xu and Carey (1996) paradigm, 10- and 12-month-old infants
saw an animate and an inanimate object repeatedly travel from behind a screen. It was
predicted that the distinct motion characteristics would facilitate object individuation
by activating underlying conceptual knowledge about the animate-inanimate
distinction and thus, generating the expectation of different kinds of objects.
In the current set of studies infants of both age groups did not show evidence
that they were able to apply such knowledge to the individuation task. Infants did not
demonstrate object individuation on the basis of domain-specific motion information
by looking longer to an unexpected outcome. It remains to be tested whether it is a
question of inability or whether motion information activates different concepts that
are employed in the present task. The discussion offers theoretical as well as
methodological explanations for the absence of object individuation in the
experiments on hand.