Look and Learn: Does Visual Experience Influence Infant's Knowledge About the Human Body?

Rosina Epps (2010). Look and Learn: Does Visual Experience Influence Infant's Knowledge About the Human Body? Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Rosina Epps
Thesis Title Look and Learn: Does Visual Experience Influence Infant's Knowledge About the Human Body?
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2010
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Tamara Christie
Total pages 65
Abstract/Summary Previous research has shown that whilst infants can recognize the human face shortly after birth, they do not reliably distinguish between typical and scrambled bodies until after the first year. Currently there is very little investigation into the mechanisms of development of body perception in infants. Learning through visual experience is an integral part of infant development and has been offered as one possible explanation for body perception development in the domain general process theory. Therefore, we hypothesised that initially 8-month-old-infants would not exhibit a preference between scrambled and typical body stimuli. In addition, we hypothesised that infants who were then exposed to visual experience of the human body will have a greater ability to discriminate between typical and non typical body representations than those who were not. Thirty one infants aged eight months were given a visual preference task and their looking time at each body picture was measured. They were presented with six picture sets each comprising of a typical and a scrambled body presented simultaneously for 15 seconds with a five second blank screen separating them. Infants were randomly assigned to either a control group and given a shape book or the experimental group and given a body image book. Parents were asked to read the book daily for three weeks after which the infants were retested using the visual preference task. Therefore a 2 (visual experience: body book versus shape book) x 2 (test phase: pre-visual experience and post-visual experience) x 2 (Body Stimuli: typical versus scrambled) mixed model ANOVA was conducted. There was no significant difference between looking times for typical or scrambled body stimuli in either the body or shape condition, before or after exposure to the visual experience. These results indicate partial support for the domain-general learning process theory but fail to find evidence of the underlying learning mechanisms that are thought to be responsible for body expertise in infants.

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Created: Mon, 04 Apr 2011, 15:31:41 EST by Lucy O'Brien on behalf of School of Psychology