How Babies Learn to Be Human

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By Nicholas Day, published April 25, 2013, on Slate

In recent years, developmental psychologists have begun to figure out how and when infants connect intention to action. (And other insights that are equally crucial: that what someone is paying attention to is a clue to their intentions; and that intentions belong to individuals—that not everyone is reaching out their arm because they are putting down some coffee.) The answers are fascinating: Infants learn about the social world at least in part by extrapolating from their own actions. In other words, if a baby was inadvisably hired at Starbucks and had the experience of putting a cup of coffee on the counter for a customer, she would be far more likely to understand what the other baristas were doing. Read the full story.