Understanding others’ perceptions is a fundamental aspect of social cognition. Children’s construal of visual perception is well investigated, but there is little work on children’s understanding of others’ auditory perception. The current study assesses toddlers’ recognition that producing different sounds can affect others differentially—auditory perspective taking. Two- and three-year-olds were familiarized with two objects, one loud and one quiet. The adult then introduced a doll, and children were randomly assigned to one of two goals: either to wake the doll or to let her sleep. Children’s object choice and the sound intensity they produced significantly varied in the predicted direction as a function of the goal task. These findings reveal young children’s understanding of the effects of sound on other people’s behavior and psychological states.
Author Accepted Manuscript version of article published as: Williamson, R. A., Brooks, R., & Meltzoff, A. N. (2013). The sound of social cognition: Toddlers’ understanding of how sound influences others. Journal of Cognition and Development. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/15248372.2013.824884