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Social Evaluation By Preverbal Infants in Relation to Theory of Mind Watch

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    Hi,

    I am writing a critical review on Hamlin, Wynn, and Bloom's (2007) paper called "Social Evaluation By Preverbal Infants".

    It relates to Theory of Mind (ToM), but I am unsure whether the 6 month-old infants exhibited ToM in the looking time measure (violation of expectation) as they spent an equal amount of time looking at the climber reaching out for the helper (unsurprising) and hinderer (surprising). Also, both 6 month-olds and 10 month-olds could not differentiate between the climber reaching out for a valenced (helper or hinderer) character versus the neutral character. However, both age groups picked the helper over the hinderer, the helper over the neutral character, and the neutral character over the hinderer. This was based on their behaviour towards an unknown third party, the climber.

    I am finding it difficult to critique it, and find other research to back up my points whether it be the strengths or weaknesses. I'm not sure how to go about it. An alternative to the social evaluation hypothesis is the simple association hypothesis, but I don't really understand it.

    The word count is 1500, but I can increase that to 1650 but I've already run out of words and I still have a bit more to add.

    Any help would be much appreciated.
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    Hi,

    What do you not understand about the associative hypothesis? Its widely used in debates where people on one side will argue that "behaviour X is caused by ToM" and people on the other side will argue that its because children are relying on simple associations to pass the task. This is usually because there is some confounding variable that means that infants can rely on a fairly simple cue to pass a given task without using the "cognitive" strategy. Other people have argued that we shouldn't really create a dichotomy between cognitive and associationist viewpoints, or that the either side theory is rubbish. There is basically quite a long running debate between the two camps.... Derek Penn and Povinelli have written lots on this topic. I'd basically really look into this literature if you want a good mark for this essay (see some citations here http://derekcpenn.com/

    If i was writing this i'd make sure to include lots of discussion (1/2 at least) discussing related research and where the particular paper fits in. Are there replications? Are there similar findings in the same age group? From a bayesian perspective if the answer to both these answers is "no" then it changes the prior probability of the experiment being true!
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    (Original post by iammichealjackson)
    Hi,

    What do you not understand about the associative hypothesis? Its widely used in debates where people on one side will argue that "behaviour X is caused by ToM" and people on the other side will argue that its because children are relying on simple associations to pass the task. This is usually because there is some confounding variable that means that infants can rely on a fairly simple cue to pass a given task without using the "cognitive" strategy. Other people have argued that we shouldn't really create a dichotomy between cognitive and associationist viewpoints, or that the either side theory is rubbish. There is basically quite a long running debate between the two camps.... Derek Penn and Povinelli have written lots on this topic. I'd basically really look into this literature if you want a good mark for this essay (see some citations here http://derekcpenn.com/

    If i was writing this i'd make sure to include lots of discussion (1/2 at least) discussing related research and where the particular paper fits in. Are there replications? Are there similar findings in the same age group? From a bayesian perspective if the answer to both these answers is "no" then it changes the prior probability of the experiment being true!
    Thank you for your help.

    I get the gist of the simple association theory now.

    I am still confused about how ToM and particularly false beliefs tie into the social evaluation hypothesis.
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    (Original post by DianaJones)
    Thank you for your help.

    I get the gist of the simple association theory now.

    I am still confused about how ToM and particularly false beliefs tie into the social evaluation hypothesis.
    False belief tasks (e.g. smarties task, the sally-anne task) are THE prototypical ToM tasks, I'm not sure how it cannot be related to ToM? ToM is pretty broadly used and the tasks used in this experiment claim to measure an understanding of whether an actor is good/bad/helpful/unhelpful which is also "social" thing.

    In terms of methodological criticisms: i am highly skeptical of these results. Firstly, they used a very small number of children, so you'd definitely want to see the results replicated in another group before drawing any conclusions. The results are too surprising to accept without looking at replications. There are lots of biases in this kind of research which get even stronger when using small samples- for example there may be selective reporting of positive outcomes, or experiments which didn't work. Thirdly, I'm a bit skeptical that adding the eyes on the shapes explains why children were more likely to use ToM for interpreting their behaviour, although i'm not sure how much other research there is on this topic. Adults at least have a very powerful instinct to anthropomorphise regardless of whether something has a face (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wp8ebj_yRI4 for example).

    I'd recommend looking through the papers that have cited this paper to (a) see what other criticisms other people have made about the paper and (b) see if there have been any replications or similar studies. This can be easily done on google scholar, and if you have the time its worth skimming through the 700 papers that have cited this and pick out the best ones to read! https://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar...iodt=0,5&hl=en
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    (Original post by iammichealjackson)
    False belief tasks (e.g. smarties task, the sally-anne task) are THE prototypical ToM tasks, I'm not sure how it cannot be related to ToM? ToM is pretty broadly used and the tasks used in this experiment claim to measure an understanding of whether an actor is good/bad/helpful/unhelpful which is also "social" thing.

    In terms of methodological criticisms: i am highly skeptical of these results. Firstly, they used a very small number of children, so you'd definitely want to see the results replicated in another group before drawing any conclusions. The results are too surprising to accept without looking at replications. There are lots of biases in this kind of research which get even stronger when using small samples- for example there may be selective reporting of positive outcomes, or experiments which didn't work. Thirdly, I'm a bit skeptical that adding the eyes on the shapes explains why children were more likely to use ToM for interpreting their behaviour, although i'm not sure how much other research there is on this topic. Adults at least have a very powerful instinct to anthropomorphise regardless of whether something has a face (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wp8ebj_yRI4 for example).

    I'd recommend looking through the papers that have cited this paper to (a) see what other criticisms other people have made about the paper and (b) see if there have been any replications or similar studies. This can be easily done on google scholar, and if you have the time its worth skimming through the 700 papers that have cited this and pick out the best ones to read! https://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar...iodt=0,5&hl=en
    I meant how both ToM and false beliefs relate to social evaluation. I suppose ToM sets the foundation. I think morality plays a major role too. There is probably a correlation of some sort between the two. It seems like social-cognitive psychology, which makes me wonder whether social cognition comes into it. As well as moral cognition. Not sure where this paper fits in because it seems to to be the first paper with these seemingly groundbreaking findings. Yes, those are the gold-standard false belief tasks. Choice and violation of expectation (looking time) paradigms were used to measure infants' attitudes preferences and expectations.

    For the introduction, would I be better to focus on ToM or morality? Is morality a discipline in psychology in its own right? I'm perplexed. Research on culpable causation fell under blame psychology, so does social evaluation fall under social or moral psychology, or is morality a sub-section of social psychology? There is mention of socio-moral development, but not completely sure what this means. Moral development, judgement and cognition seem different, yet interchangeable which is why it confuses me. Sorry about this, I'm just trying to get my head wrapped around this.

    I think the sample size was 84 in total, which now looking at it seems small so thanks for pointing that out. 14 participants were removed due to parental interference and etc. Apparently, this increased validity but not sure what type of validity and how exactly. Not to mention, important demographic information available was not accounted for which probably means it lacks generalisability (does the small number of participants also mean it will be difficult to generalise to the wider population?) as the infants in the study were probably from an American, middle-class, white background with well-educated parents. Is it worth mentioning as weaknesses that the recruitment process and ethics were not mentioned in the study? I also suggested that it would be useful to know whether they had siblings, in particular an older sibling due to that having a positive impact of one reaching developmental milestones quicker (e.g. ToM) as they pushed to perform better and the likelihood of engaging in pretend play is higher if siblings are present, which is also associated with acquiring ToM faster. Does this make sense?

    As for the eyes, I don't really get it myself. Human agents, or even dolls would be better alternatives in my opinion.

    This is what I found:

    Criticism:

    http://m.pnas.org/content/109/22/E1426.full

    http://journals.plos.org/plosone/art...l.pone.0042698

    Counterargument:

    http://m.pnas.org/content/109/22/E1427.full

    http://journal.frontiersin.org/artic...01563/full#B37

    Attempted replication:

    http://journals.plos.org/plosone/art...l.pone.0140570

    What are your thoughts?

    Thank you so much for the insights and suggestions. I really appreciate it.

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    (Original post by DianaJones)
    I meant how both ToM and false beliefs relate to social evaluation. I suppose ToM sets the foundation. I think morality plays a major role too. There is probably a correlation of some sort between the two. It seems like social-cognitive psychology, which makes me wonder whether social cognition comes into it. As well as moral cognition. Not sure where this paper fits in because it seems to to be the first paper with these seemingly groundbreaking findings. Yes, those are the gold-standard false belief tasks. Choice and violation of expectation (looking time) paradigms were used to measure infants' attitudes preferences and expectations.

    For the introduction, would I be better to focus on ToM or morality? Is morality a discipline in psychology in its own right? I'm perplexed. Research on culpable causation fell under blame psychology, so does social evaluation fall under social or moral psychology, or is morality a sub-section of social psychology? There is mention of socio-moral development, but not completely sure what this means. Moral development, judgement and cognition seem different, yet interchangeable which is why it confuses me. Sorry about this, I'm just trying to get my head wrapped around this.

    I think the sample size was 84 in total, which now looking at it seems small so thanks for pointing that out. 14 participants were removed due to parental interference and etc. Apparently, this increased validity but not sure what type of validity and how exactly. Not to mention, important demographic information available was not accounted for which probably means it lacks generalisability (does the small number of participants also mean it will be difficult to generalise to the wider population?) as the infants in the study were probably from an American, middle-class, white background with well-educated parents. Is it worth mentioning as weaknesses that the recruitment process and ethics were not mentioned in the study? I also suggested that it would be useful to know whether they had siblings, in particular an older sibling due to that having a positive impact of one reaching developmental milestones quicker (e.g. ToM) as they pushed to perform better and the likelihood of engaging in pretend play is higher if siblings are present, which is also associated with acquiring ToM faster. Does this make sense?

    As for the eyes, I don't really get it myself. Human agents, or even dolls would be better alternatives in my opinion.

    This is what I found:

    Criticism:

    http://m.pnas.org/content/109/22/E1426.full

    http://journals.plos.org/plosone/art...l.pone.0042698

    Counterargument:

    http://m.pnas.org/content/109/22/E1427.full

    http://journal.frontiersin.org/artic...01563/full#B37

    Attempted replication:

    http://journals.plos.org/plosone/art...l.pone.0140570

    What are your thoughts?

    Thank you so much for the insights and suggestions. I really appreciate it.

    Posted from TSR Mobile
    ToM is used really widely, my suspicion is that cognitively there isn't one thing but loads of different processes at work. I think your right to be confused, I'm not sure how much work there is linking all these cognitive tasks together, and my suspicion from the paper is that they're only at the stage to make conjectures about apparent links between the tasks.

    The main issue with small samples is bias. In theory, smaller samples should just mean that your observed effects are less accurate rather than biased. However, Studies with smaller samples generally tend to show larger effects http://epa.sagepub.com/content/31/4/500.abstract . This is partly due to things such as publication bias and biased analysis and selective reporting. Publication bias occurs when studies with non-significant results are more likely to be rejected from journals, or not even written up as a paper. Having a small sample means that only studies with very large effects are significant and more likely to be published, and if you're running studies with 20 rather than 2000 participants each study has less value so you don't really care as much about not publishing the studies that don't work! In addition when you have small samples, small things such as deciding whether or not to exclude a participant, or your choice of statistical model or estimation technique have a much larger effect, so researchers can selectively analyse their data. The fact the the study hasn't been replicated lends support to this view.
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    (Original post by iammichealjackson)
    ToM is used really widely, my suspicion is that cognitively there isn't one thing but loads of different processes at work. I think your right to be confused, I'm not sure how much work there is linking all these cognitive tasks together, and my suspicion from the paper is that they're only at the stage to make conjectures about apparent links between the tasks.

    The main issue with small samples is bias. In theory, smaller samples should just mean that your observed effects are less accurate rather than biased. However, Studies with smaller samples generally tend to show larger effects http://epa.sagepub.com/content/31/4/500.abstract . This is partly due to things such as publication bias and biased analysis and selective reporting. Publication bias occurs when studies with non-significant results are more likely to be rejected from journals, or not even written up as a paper. Having a small sample means that only studies with very large effects are significant and more likely to be published, and if you're running studies with 20 rather than 2000 participants each study has less value so you don't really care as much about not publishing the studies that don't work! In addition when you have small samples, small things such as deciding whether or not to exclude a participant, or your choice of statistical model or estimation technique have a much larger effect, so researchers can selectively analyse their data. The fact the the study hasn't been replicated lends support to this view.
    Yes, you are right that a number of processes are most likely at work other than ToM.

    It's true that there seems to be a lot of factors suggesting that the results are biased. These are some interesting issues, which I haven't thought about but it makes a lot of sense.

    I am glad this assignment is over, and that my results were higher than I expected. I didn't expect to get a high first.

    Thanks again for your support.
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    (Original post by DianaJones)
    Yes, you are right that a number of processes are most likely at work other than ToM.

    It's true that there seems to be a lot of factors suggesting that the results are biased. These are some interesting issues, which I haven't thought about but it makes a lot of sense.

    I am glad this assignment is over, and that my results were higher than I expected. I didn't expect to get a high first.

    Thanks again for your support.
    Awesome !
 
 
 
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