Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program



English (en)

Date of Award

Summer 8-1-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Chair and Committee

Lori Markson


Three experiments: total N=53) examined whether toddlers show preferences for people and objects in an interactive, touch-screen paradigm. In all experiments, children watched videos of stimuli pairs displayed on two monitors in each trial, and were then given the chance to watch another video of one of the stimuli items by touching the screen on which it had appeared. Experiments 1 and 2 exposed children to interesting vs. boring objects, and engaging vs. boring speakers. Experiment 3 examined children’s responses when presented with one actor who spoke English: native language speaker) compared to another actor who spoke in a foreign language: e.g. French, Korean, etc.). Across the three experiments, children failed to show trait-based: Experiments 1 & 2) or category-based: Experiment 3) social preferences. They did, however, show preferences for the target objects when the target was highly familiar, and thus more interesting than the distracter object. Possible explanations for the lack of observable preferences using this method, and the implications of this for future research are discussed.


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