’7-month-olds can understand others’ views’

The Social Sense: Susceptibility to Others’ Beliefs in Human Infants and Adults Human social interactions crucially depend on the ability to represent other agents’ beliefs even when these contradict our own beliefs, leading to the potentially complex problem of simultaneously holding two conflicting representations in mind. Here, we show that adults and 7-month-olds automatically encode others’ beliefs, and that, surprisingly, others’ beliefs have similar effects as the participants’ own beliefs. In a visual object detection task, participants’ beliefs and the beliefs of an agent (whose beliefs were irrelevant to performing the task) both modulated adults’ reaction times and infants’ looking times. Moreover, the agent’s beliefs influenced participants’ behavior even after the agent had left the scene, suggesting that participants computed the agent’s beliefs online and sustained them, possibly for future predictions about the agent’s behavior. Hence, the mere presence of an agent automatically triggers powerful processes of belief computation that may be part of a “social sense” crucial to human societies. – The Institute for Psychology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences carries out basic psychological research both for pure scientific purposes and for direct or indirect application in

Hungary. Research areas cover social, comparative cultural, cognitive and developmental psychology and psychophysiology. Research takes a broad approach to scientific issues, and embraces other branches of science and social science. Institute staff are also engaged in adapting and developing new psychological research methods. Vocational and basic education at both undergraduate and postgraduate level is another area where Institute staff are active. Research in the Institute covers many areas of psychology. Much effort is put into developing practical applications of basic research results. Research staff have built up a broad network of working contacts within Hungary and abroad. Our projects have proved successful in international terms, and an increasing proportion are awarded funding from Europe and the United States. Authors: Ágnes Melinda Kovács, Ernő Téglás and Ansgar Denis Endress. To whom correspondence should be addressed. Ágnes Melinda Kovács E-mail: agneskovacs@mtapi.hu Cognitive Development Centre, Central European University News from: Hungarian Academy of Sciences & source: Science International weekly science journal    sciencemag.org

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