Selective looking by infants
Date of this Version
Previous studies of selective looking have shown that adults and young children can easily follow one visually specified event while ignoring another on which it is optically superimposed. The present experiments show that 4-month-old infants have the same ability. Two films were shown superimposed on the same screen, while one soundtrack was played in an attempt to influence the subjects' perceptual selection. When the films were separated during test periods, the infants looked mostly at the previously silent film, suggesting that it was novel for them. Control experiments showed that completely unfamiliar films elicited comparable novelty preferences in the same situation, that the soundtrack could also influence perceptual selection during side-by-side presentation of the same films, and that cross-modal habituation to the soundtrack alone could not account for the results. Perception is inherently selective, even in the first months of life. © 1981.
Bahrick, Lorraine E.; Walker, Arlene S.; and Neisser, Ulric, "Selective looking by infants" (1981). Department of Psychology. 80.