Previous work shows that infants manifest emulation learning in the use of end-state information. Outcome-based emulation has been interpreted as affordance learning or goal attribution. The present paper explores whether these two learning possibilities might be related. In 3 experiments, 17-month-old infants (N = 180) were presented with action outcomes across a variety of contexts and tasks: They observed either the full demonstration or the model's starting and final postures, plus the initial and end states of the object, or the latter portion of the foregoing display, or the end state of the object alone. The tasks included combinatory, noncombinatory, and body movement acts. Infants reproduced observed outcomes most often by observing the full demonstration. A similar effect was attained by exposure to both posture and configuration changes, but the effect was subject to the combinatory nature of the apparatus. In contrast, performance was less efficient after seeing the object's end state alone, suggesting that infants in the previous conditions did not simply emulate in association with the affordances. These findings support the notion that goal attribution based on sensitivity to bodily cues is reliant on the clarity of the affordances of a task.
Journal of Comparative Psychology, 126(2), 139-149