Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Daniela Corbetta

Committee Members

Jessica Hay, Greg Reynolds, Itamar Arel


This study investigates how visual attention to a scene is modified when the actor has a reaching goal or not. Thirty-six 7-month-olds were recruited, with 18 in a reaching group and 18 in a non-reaching group. Infants in both groups were presented with objects out of their reaching space until they accumulated approximately six seconds of active looking as measured by an eye-tracker. For the infants in the non-reaching group, the trial ended after the six seconds. For the reaching group, the object was then moved into the infants’ reaching space where they could reach for it. We were interested in the proportion of looking to the object being presented, the experimenter’s hand presenting the object, elsewhere on the scene, and away from the scene. We found that the non-reaching infants spent more time looking away from the scene than the reaching infants (p < .05). The reaching infants looked more at the goal object and less at the experimenter’s hand than the non-reaching infants (ps < .05). In sum, these results suggest that having a reaching goal may drive infants’ visual attention more to a scene and toward the actual goal object, while not having an action goal may drive more attention away from the scene and to other areas of the scene (experimenter’s hand) besides the object, since they are not planning to act on it.

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