The drawbridge phenomenon: representational reasoning or perceptual preference?
Developmental Psychology 35(2):427-435.
Two experiments investigated whether infants would look longer at a rotating "drawbridge" that appeared to violate physical laws because they knew that it was causally impossible, as claimed by R. Baillargeon, E. S. Spelke, and S. Wasserman (1985) and R. Baillargeon (1987a). Using a habituation paradigm, they reported that infants looked longer at a display that appeared impossible (rotated 180 degrees while an obstructing box was behind it) than at one that appeared possible (rotated only 112 degrees, appearing to stop at the box). Experiment 1 eliminated habituation to 180 degree screen rotations. Still, infants looked longer at the 180 degree impossible rotations. Critically, however, infants alsolooked longer at possible 180 degree rotations in Experiment 2, in which no obstruction was present. Moreover, no difference in effect size was found between the 2 experiments. These findings indicate that infants' longer looking at 180 degree rotations is due to simple perceptual preference for more motion. They question R. Baillargeon's (1987a) claim that it is due to infants' representational reasoning about physically impossible object permanence events.