The area of research investigated in the studies of the research papers presented in this work is twofold. First, infants’ ability to process spatial relational information in objects and faces was examined in research paper 1 to 6. Second, infants’ sensitivity to socialinteractional factors in dyadic and triadic exchanges were explored in research paper 7 to 10. Well established infancy methods such as the habituation-novelty preference technique or the still-face paradigm were employed to investigate these issues.
The results regarding object perception suggest that infants are sensitive to many of the same object properties that adults use to derive important ecological information such as object structure, spatial layout, and figure-ground boundaries. Moreover, infants are sensitive to facial information that is thought to underlie expert face processing by adult humans. While sensitivity to spatial relational information in objects and faces is operational early in life and follows adult patterns in many regards, perceptual development within infancy and between infancy and adulthood is not rule out.
The research investigating very young infants’ behavior in dyadic interactions reveals that infants are not perturbed by violations of natural face-to-face exchanges until they are about 1.5 months of age. The findings further suggest that infants are especially attuned to the social partner’s interactive face. Once infants open the dyadic interactions to incorporate objects and events, they socially share experiences about an entity in the environment. Actively engaging in triadic interactions is considered a milestone in social and cognitive development. It sets the premise for cultural learning. We demonstrated that infants are as likely to engage in triadic interactions with an adult stranger than with a familiar caregiver, and that processing and learning about objects within this social context is sensitive to the social-interactional factors that prevail.