Leuk onderzoek: waarom verstoppen kinderen zich door hun handen voor de ogen te houden?

Je merkt het misschien zelf ook al, maar als jonge kinderen tussen 2 en 4 zich moeten verstoppen doen ze dit vaak door gewoonweg hun handen voor hun ogen te houden. Waarom doen ze dit? Dit onderzochten James Russell, Brioney Gee & Christina Bullard door gaandeweg meer en meer verklaringen te kunnen uitsluiten. 

Opvallend genoeg beseften de meeste kinderen dat hun lichaam wel degelijk nog zichtbaar was als de ogen bedekten via hun handen of via een masker. De onderzoekers stellen dat ‘… it would seem that children apply the principle of joint attention to the self and assume that for somebody to be perceived, experience must be shared and mutually known to be shared, as it is when two pairs of eyes meet.”

Dit onderzoek kan een invloed hebben op verder onderzoek rond autisme of blinde kinderen: “For example, children with autism are known to engage in less sharing of attention with other people (following another person’s gaze), so perhaps they will be less concerned with the role of mutual gaze in working out who is visible. Another interesting avenue could be to explore the invisibility beliefs of children born blind.” (bron)

Abstract van het onderzoek:

In a series of four experiments, the authors begin by replicating Flavell, Shipstead, and Croft’s (1980) finding that many children between 2 and 4 years of age will affirm the invisibility both of themselves and of others—but not of the body—when the person’s eyes are closed. The authors also render explicit certain trends in the Flavell et al. work: that invisibility of the eyes is the crucial factor, not lack of a subject’s visual experience, and that young children assume that the eyes must be visible if there is visual experience. They show that children of this age often explicitly judge that hiding by covering the eyes is an appropriate thing to do and that this error is not rooted in problems with understanding that seeing leads to knowing. In their final study, they report that a clear majority of children who equate personal invisibility with eye occlusion also judge that people whose eyes are open, but who are not making eye contact with the viewer, are not visible to the viewer. They argue that these data can be explained on the hypothesis that young children’s natural tendency to acquire knowledge intersubjectively, by joint attention, leads them to undergo a developmental period in which they believe the self is something that must be mutually experienced for it to be perceived.

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