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Infants’ understanding of their social world

Free Course Free Course Featuring: Video Video Audio Audio

In this free course, Infants' understanding of their social world, we draw on a wide range of psychological research to address the question of whether infants have a rich understanding of their social world. You will have the opportunity to read journal papers and newspaper articles as well as to engage with audio clips, and to explore your assumptions about infants' social understanding.

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • define what psychologists mean by ‘rich’ understanding
  • compare and contrast the different perspectives of psychologists who argue that infants have a rich understanding of their social world
  • critically evaluate the role that the infant plays during infant–adult social interactions

By: The Open University

  • Duration 12 hours
  • Updated Wednesday 17th February 2016
  • Advanced level
  • Posted under Early Years
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Infants’ understanding of their social world


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Researchers have long been interested in whether infants have a rich or poor understanding of their social world. Here, we consider just one side of this debate and draw on a wide range of research which argues that infants’ have a rich understanding. You will have the opportunity to read research articles which explore such issues as the degree to which infants contribute to social interactions, whether or not they are born communicators, and whether their relations with people emerge out of intimate social interaction. These readings are supported by audio clips of interviews with researchers. You will be given the opportunity to reflect upon the research and critique the findings and to think about your own views, based upon your own experiences of children you know.

This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University module ED841: Understanding children’s development and learning [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

This is a Masters-level course and you may find that some of the readings are challenging. We suggest that you carry out the audio-visual activities as these are intended to bring the readings to life.

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