Online measures of looking and learning in infancy


Infants in laboratory settings look longer at events that violate their expectations, learn better about objects that behave unexpectedly, and match utterances to the objects that likely elicited them. The paradigms revealing these behaviors have become cornerstones of research on pre- verbal cognition. However, little is known about whether these canonical behaviors are observed outside laboratory settings. Here, we describe a series of online protocols that replicate classic laboratory findings, detailing our methods throughout. In Experiment 1a, 15-month-old infants (N = 24) looked longer at an online support event culminating in an Unexpected outcome (i.e., appear- ing to defy gravity) than an Expected outcome. Infants did not, however, show the same success with an online solidity event. In Experiment 1b, 15-month-old infants (N = 24) showed surprise-induced learning following online events—they were better able to learn a novel object’s label when the object had behaved unexpect- edly compared to when it behaved expectedly. Finally, in Experiment 2, 16-month-old infants (N = 20) who heard a valenced utterance (“Yum!”) showed preferential look- ing to the object most likely to have generated that ut- terance. Together, these results suggest that, with some adjustments, online testing is a feasible and promising approach for infant cognition research.

Infancy, 27(1)
Alexis Smith-Flores
Alexis Smith-Flores
PhD student in Experimental Psychology

My research interests include infant social cognition, emotion reasoning, and object representation.