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Babies use statistics when thinking about people

At the 28th Annual Conference for the Association for Psychological Science I presented a poster on my ongoing research investigating how babies use statistics to make judgments about other people.

Imagine you are at a party where there is a large bowl of assorted candies. You see a woman walk up to the bowl and select only Snickers. You might expect that the woman prefers Snickers over all other candies in the bowl. Well, babies think the same thing! When babies saw a girl chose all blue balls from a box of mostly red, babies believed that the girl preferred blue over red balls. In other words, when it was statistically unlikely that the girl could choose all blue balls from a box of mostly red balls, babies expected that she chose all blue balls not by accident but because she liked them more.

10 month old babies paid attention to the statistical improbability that a girl would select all blue balls from a box that contained mostly red balls. What’s more, babies used this statistical probability to decide that the girl had a preference.

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