Development of interactive biological motion perception in preschoolers and its relation to social competence


The perception of interactive biological motion (BM) plays an important role in social life. Such social perception enables people to understand the underlying social intentions and social relationships in interactive actions, so that they can anticipate the behavior response in an appropriate manner. Although interaction perception has been widely explored in adults, little is known about preschoolers’ developmental trajectory of interaction perception and its further impact on social development. This study explored the develop‐ ment of interaction perception in a dyadic BM situation and its relation to teachers’ report of social competence among 3–6‐year olds (N = 119). Children were asked to watch vid‐ eos of dyadic BM and decide whether two characters were interacting or not. The results suggested that the sensitiv‐ ity of BM perception continues to develop during the en‐ tire preschool age period and is positively associated with children’s social competence among children aged 5–6, even after controlling for age and language ability. However, for younger children aged 3–4, language ability rather than per‐ ception of social interaction positively correlated with their social competence. Our findings review the rapid develop‐ ment of interactive BM perception in early childhood and highlight the important role of interaction perception in pre‐ schoolers’ social development.


early childhood, interactive biological motion, language ability, point‐light display, social competence


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