The perception of intention

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Science  20 Jan 1989:
Vol. 243, Issue 4889, pp. 365-367
DOI: 10.1126/science.2911746


Classical work on the perception of causality in humans is extended to the perception of intention. Two experiments explored the sensitivity of preschool children to intentional events that can be stated in terms of time and distance only. In habituation-dishabituation of attention tests, preschool children differentiated between intentional movement patterns of two balls and the nonintentional control events where the movements were desynchronized. Also, reversal of the roles of the balls produced more recovery of attention in the intentional case than it did in the nonintentional case.

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