Social interaction targets enhance 13-month-old infants' associative learning.
Thiele M., Hepach R., Michel C., Gredebäck G., Haun DBM.
Infants are attentive to third-party interactions, but the underlying mechanisms of this preference remain understudied. This study examined whether 13-month-old infants (N = 32) selectively learn cue-target associations guiding them to videos depicting a social interaction scene. In a visual learning task, two geometrical shapes were repeatedly paired with two kinds of target videos: two adults interacting with one another (social interaction) or the same adults acting individually (non-interactive control). Infants performed faster saccadic latencies and more predictive gaze shifts toward the cued target region during social interaction trials. These findings suggest that social interaction targets can serve as primary reinforcers in an associative learning task, supporting the view that infants find it intrinsically valuable to observe others' interactions.