Sheila Krogh-Jespersen
Postdoctoral Researcher

Speed and Social Competence 

 Children learn a great deal from their interactions with social partners, including language and cultural norms, among other important social cognitive abilities. Learning from others requires at least two kinds of abilities in the child – the ability to represent others’ actions as intentional and the ability to use this knowledge very quickly in real time. In the first year of life, converging evidence from passive experimental methods suggests that young infants have an understanding of others’ intentions and goals (Guajardo & Woodward, 2004; Woodward, 1998, 1999); however, these same infants may not appear as sophisticated in their knowledge of others during naturalistic interactions that require fast responses.

Between 12 and 24 months of age, infants show increasing skill in fine-grained social interactive abilities (social competence).This project explores the possibility that the difference in social competence between years 1 and 2 is driven by infants becoming more adept at recruiting their knowledge of others’ intentions quickly during social interactions, which allows them to produce rapid appropriate responses to others.

Sheila Project Page

Across a number of studies, this project examines how skilled infants are at integrating social knowledge about others (social competence) and whether their speed in responding (which we call their Goal Prediction Speed) aids in their development of social skills that are evident in the second year of life. Social competence skills include understanding collaborative interactions, perspective-taking, and imitation among other abilities. This project also examines whether experience influences infants’ ability to recruit their knowledge of others to generate fast appropriate social responses. The current project sheds light on infants’ developing social competence,
a multidimensional ability that encompasses social, cognitive, and
behavioral skills that allow infants to effectively navigate their social world.