Infants' use of social partnerships to predict behavior

Marjorie Rhodes, Chelsea Hetherington, Kimberly Brink, Henry M. Wellman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The experiences of social partners are important motivators of social action. Can infants use such experiences to make predictions about how social agents will behave? Sixteen-month-old infants were introduced to two social pairs. Initial events established within-pair cooperation as well as between-pair conflict involving an individual from each pair. Following these events, infants looked longer when between-pair members who had never previously interacted now cooperated - instead of conflicted - with each other. Thus, infants tracked the third-person allegiances and inferred that the conflict would generalize across social partnerships. These findings demonstrate a critical feature of early social cognition and promote needed, further research on the role of social allegiances in social cognition across development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)909-916
Number of pages8
JournalDevelopmental science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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