Probability-matching in 10-month-old infants


Evidence from the probability learning literature indicates that when presented with simple situations that require making predictions, adults tend to probability match whereas children are likely to show maximization (Stevenson & Weir, 1959; Weir, 1964). The reason for this developmental difference is not fully understood, but one possibility investigated here is that children have fewer resources available to differentiate among the probabilities of the competing alternatives. To investigate this hypothesis at its origin, we used an anticipatory eye movement paradigm to gather two-alternative choice responses from 10-month-old infants. In two experiments we presented infants with either an entirely predictable (100-0%) or a probabilistic (70-30%) series of visual events. Infants showed evidence of probability matching rather than maximizing. These results are discussed in the context of alternative explanations for maximizing and the utility of eye-tracking as a window on infants’ probability learning.

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