Publication details [#14214]

Anderson, Erin M., Susan J. Hespos and L. Rips. 2018. Five-Month-Old Infants Have Expectations for the Accumulation of Nonsolid Substances. Cognition 175 : 1–10. 10 pp.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
Amsterdam: Elsevier


Babies are unable to judge amounts of loose substances, like sand, whereas they follow a different pattern with solid materials. Some researchers posit that this is proof of their having a lack of representation of these loose materials. Recently, research has shown babies, aged five months, have certain expectations about the behavior and interaction of things and materials. Two experiments were performed that tested if babies expect anything regarding materials on occasions when the consequences are not the direct opposite of their expectations for objects. In the first experiment, five-month-old babies were shown to have an expectation that sand being poured from a cup behind a screen will fall into one mound instead of two mounds. In the same vein, babies have the expectation that when sand is poured from two separate cups, two mounds will form instead of one. Babies observed incompatible amounts of mounds for longer periods of time, suggesting that babies have assumptions for the accumulation of sand. In the second experiment, it was tested if the amount of cups or the amount of pours affected assumptions about how sand gathers. This was done by giving conflicting information. The results were random, providing evidence that babies need compatible pieces of information (as in number of cups and pours) in order to create expectations about the consequences. The results of these experiments shed light on how babies represent loose materials such as sand.