Peekaboo! Cambridge scientists discover why children think they are invisible when they hide their eyes

From The Daily Mail:

It’s an adorable game parents have played with their young children for generations.

But now researchers are looking for a scientific answer to explain why children think they actually disappear when they cover their eyes while playing peekaboo.

Researchers led by James Russell at the University of Cambridge have carried out the first study into this bizarre trait with groups of three and four-year-old children.

The children’s eyes were covered with masks and they were then asked whether they could be seen by the researchers – with most saying no.

Many also believed that the researchers could not see adults who were wearing eye masks – leading to the conclusion most young children believe that anyone who covers their eyes is obscured from other people’s view.

The researchers then attempted to distinguish what exactly creates the feeling of invisibility – whether it was not being able to see at all or just because the other person couldn’t see their eyes.

The children were given a pair of mirrored goggles so that while they could see through the glasses, no one could see their eyes.

Unfortunately, only 7 of the 37 participating children were able to get to grips with the idea that while they could still see, no one could see their eyes.

But of those who did understand the concept, six believed they were invisible if the researchers couldn’t see their eyes, even if they could still see them.

Although when the children were asked to explain how they were made invisible by simply hiding their eyes, many knew that their bodies remained visible, suggesting a childhood distinction between their physical bodies and the ‘self’ they connect to their eyes.

Continue reading the rest of the story on The Daily Mail