Understanding reflections of self and other objects

Kim Bard*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Bard explains how understanding reflections of reality via the mirror begins at about 2 years of age. Recognizing reflections of the self appears to follow a different developmental route than recognizing reflections of objects. Research on the development of mirror experience in infants and chimpanzees is reviewed, and some intriguing research using video techniques is described. The chapter provides insight into the general factors and specialized pathways involved in the onset of awareness of reflective reality. this chapter reviews developmental and comparative studies of mirror self-recognition. In children and also in chimpanzees, self-awareness has been studied using the mark-and-mirror test (for overviews see Bard, Todd, Bernier, Love and Leavens, 2006; Courage, Edison and Howe, 2004). In this assessment, the objective target behaviour is the ability to touch a mark on one's own face, as a result of seeing the self-image reflected in the mirror. Mirror self-recognition (MSR) is often considered the point of origin for self-awareness because it appears to be the first time when the self is objectively identified. We take a comparative perspective, reviewing the literature on the development of MSR in human and chimpanzee infants, and in other primate species, and suggest that passing the mark test isn't about understanding the reflective properties of the mirror, isn't about discovery of the mark by looking at the mirror image, but is something special about being self-aware.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDrawing and the Non-Verbal Mind
Subtitle of host publicationA Life-Span Perspective
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9780511489730
ISBN (Print)9780521872058
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008


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