Do infants show knowledge of the familiar size of everyday objects?

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Journal of Experimental Child Psychology



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The current study aimed to examine the age at which infants exhibit knowledge of the familiar size of common everyday objects. A total of 65 7- and 12-month-old infants were presented with familiar-sized and novel-sized (i.e., larger or smaller than the familiar size) common everyday objects (i.e., pacifiers and sippy cups), which were placed out of their reach. Both 7- and 12-month-olds’ first looks were more frequently directed toward physically larger objects irrespective of whether they were familiar- or novel-sized objects. This finding indicates that initial visual orientation is contingent on the magnitude of the absolute physical size of an object. However, when the entire duration of presentation of the objects (i.e., 10 s) was examined, 12-month-olds’ mean looking durations were found to be longer for novel-sized objects than for familiar-sized objects. Thus, although infants in both age groups were able to discern the physical sizes of objects, only 12-month-olds could successfully discriminate between the familiar and novel sizes of everyday objects. Notably, 12-month-olds demonstrated knowledge of familiar size even though the test objects were out of their reach and, consequently, unamenable to manual exploration.