Two experiments investigated 6- and 10-month-old infants’ perception of launching events. According to Michotte (1963), spatial and temporal features of such events define them as either causal or noncausal. These features should cue the direct perception of causality early in life. The present experiments examined the development of the perception of these features and the encoding of events as either causal or noncausal. In Experiment 1, infants did not demonstrate a natural preference for causal or noncausal events at either age. In Experiment 2, a habituation-dishabituation paradigm was used to examine infants’ ability to discriminate among these events. The results indicated that infants at 10 months, but not 6 months, discriminated the events on the basis of causality. The younger infants appeared to respond to the individual objects in the events, but not to the relationship between objects. In general, the results tended to support a model that assumes that infants’ perception of a causal event appears gradually late in the first year of life and may depend upon the type of objects included in the event.
Oakes, L. M., & Cohen, L. B. (1990). Infant perception of a causal event. Cognitive Development, 5(2), 193-207.