Determinants of infant visual fixation: Evidence for a two-process theory

Howard S. Bashinski, John S Werner, Jerry W. Rudy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Three experiments were conducted to investigate the dynamics of the human infant's (4 months old) visual fixation. The general finding that, over a series of trials, infants fixate longer to a complex than to a simple stimulus was replicated. The function relating fixation time to trials was shown to be nonmonotonic when the stimulus was complex (fixation time increased between Trials 1 and 2 and then decreased), but was monotonic when the stimulus was simple (it decreased systematically over trials). Additional experiments indicated that (a) the nonmonotonic function associated with the complex stimulus was eliminated when the interval separating Trials 1 and 2 was increased from 10 to 20 or 30 s (Experiment 2), and (b) the difference in fixation time between the complex and the simple stimulus was eliminated by controlling their effects in a within-subjects design (Experiment 3). These data challenge the prevailing cognitive-schema theories as a complete account of the dynamics of the infant's visual fixation. A two-process theory that accounts for these data was proposed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)580-598
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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