Often, research articles are composed of results of new findings and past research. Experimental psychology relies heavily on the researcher's ability to further expand previous research conducted. Child psychology, in particular, is constantly building unto old research in hopes of uncovering more knowledge about children. More specifically, Baillargeon's article "Object Permanence in 3 - and 4 -Month-Old Infants" is an example of one researcher utilizing proven research from another. In this case, Baillargeon uses DeLoache's article "Rate of Habituation and Visual Memory in Infants" to unveil more ground about the understanding of object permanence in infants.
DeLoache's found that infants habituate and interpret visual stimuli at different rates, fast and slow. The relationship between these two articles show that research can often help other researchers to prove their hypothesis, more clearly, research is a never ending field. Baillargeon's article proves that some infants have object permanence as early as 3-months. In order to test object permanence in infants, Baillargeon set up an experiment with two types of events. Recreating two types of real-life situations, an impossible and possible situation, the experimenters tested their hypothesis. These situations were designed to find out if infants understand whether objects have permanence even when they are occluded.
Measuring the looking times of each infant on the events tested understanding. The experiment started by habituating the infant to the rotating screen. After habituation, they would set up one of the two events. The impossible event was a box in plain view, which slowly disappeared by the rotating screen.
Then to complete the impossible event an experimenter would take away the box and the screen would continue until it reached 180 . The possible event was a box in plain view, which slowly disappeared by the rotating screen until the screen leaned right up against the box at 112 . The infants spent more time looking at the impossible event, which suggests that they understood that the object couldn't have disappeared. Conversely, the infants spent less time looking at the possible event, which suggests that this event was not interesting to them because they knew that the object had permanence. Therefore, some 3 -months-old and 4 -months-old do have object permanence. In order to set up a valid experiment, one must make sure all the aspects of the experiment are solid.
Baillargeon set up an experiment that concentrated on object permanence, because she used proven facts from other researchers. The reason Baillargeon used DeLoache's article in her research was to validate one of her experiments that didn't perform the way she expected. DeLoache's article states that infants habituate at different times, some fast and some slow, but all infants are able to habituate to the same level. Thus, once habituated properly, no matter how many tries, both fast and slow habituates are able to perform the same way. This interested Baillargeon because in one of her experiments, the infants who habituated slower weren't able to tell the impossible and possible events apart. As she explained, "Their patterns were not unexpected, because rate of habituation is known to relate to post habituation performance". (P. 660, Baillargeon, 1987).
Although Baillargeon was not able to get the kind of results she wanted in one of her three experiments, she did prove object permanence. DeLoache would argue that the reason Baillargeon didn't get the results she predicted is she didn't let the slow habituates properly habituate to the stimuli. DeLoache states that infants who habituate at their own rate will do just as well as those who habituate fast. Thus, if Baillargeon would have let the infants take their time habituating the results between the fast and the slow habituates would be the same. While Baillargeon was conducting her own research, she was interesting in some of unfinished research that DeLoache left open and presented some new hypothesis. Although DeLoache did figure out that infants habituate at different rates, she didn't answer why some infants are fast while others are slow at habituating stimulus DeLoache's only reasoning was that infants differ in their ability to encode information rather than their ability to understand and retrieve the information.
Baillargeon added two different thoughts to answer the questions. One thought is that the slow habituators are less attentive and have a harder time focussing on new information. Baillargeon observed that the slow habituators were fussier and less alert. Lastly, Baillargeon thought it could be more than just cognitive reactions, and one should consider motivation, social, or physiological aspects. Further research is required to get the answer to this, but perhaps another child psychologist will research on the ideas of Baillargeon, just like a torch being passed on. All said, Baillargeon proved object permanence, but she wouldn't have been able to conduct her research without knowledge of habitation rates that DeLoache proved.
Not only did Baillargeon use DeLoache's article to better aid her own research, but Baillargeon also gave more explanations for the missing part in DeLoache's article. Research is valuable because it is the basis for all that we know. I doubt there will ever be a day when a person will not be able to use or build off another person's research.