Self-Perception by 3-Month-Old Infants
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Recent empirical findings in the domain of infancy call for a new interpretation of the origins of self-knowledge. From birth, infants appear to express a sense of self. Remarkable abilities discovered in the young infant suggest that in development, and prior to the emergence of a conceptual self, infants manifest a situated or ecological self. According to Neisser (1991), infants are actively constructing a situated or ecological self, before they acquire a conceptual self. The situated or ecological self is based on established perceptual abilities of the young infant. It refers to the sense of self as a differentiated and organized entity, situated in the environment as an agent of action and transformation. According to this view, a personal sense of agency is an early fact of life forming an implicit self-knowledge that guides the infant in his/ her interaction with the environment, hence its resources. Neisser (1985) suggested that from the earliest age, babies are tuned to and capable of extracting perceptual information that corresponds to spatio-temporal invariants of the stimulation. This early capacity allows young infants to perceive objects and events, and to situate themselves as perceivers and actors in the environment (J. 1. Gibson, 1979; E. J. Gibson, in press). However, questions remain about what information is used by young infants to specify themselves as an agent in the environment and how the use of such information announces explicit self recognition emerging by the second year. Although the development of self-recognition by young infants in front of a mirror has been well documented, very few studies have attempted to isolate the relevant information underlying self-perception in infancy.