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Twelve-month-olds point to share attention and interest

Authors

  • Ulf Liszkowski,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Developmental and Comparative Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany
      Ulf Liszkowski, Department of Developmental and Comparative Psychology, Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Deutscher Platz 6, 04103 Leipzig, Germany; e-mail: liszkowski@eva.mpg.de
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  • Malinda Carpenter,

    1. Department of Developmental and Comparative Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany
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  • Anne Henning,

    1. Junior Scientists Group on Cultural Ontogeny, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany
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  • Tricia Striano,

    1. Junior Scientists Group on Cultural Ontogeny, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany
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  • Michael Tomasello

    1. Department of Developmental and Comparative Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany
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Ulf Liszkowski, Department of Developmental and Comparative Psychology, Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Deutscher Platz 6, 04103 Leipzig, Germany; e-mail: liszkowski@eva.mpg.de

Abstract

Infants point for various motives. Classically, one such motive is declarative, to share attention and interest with adults to events. Recently, some researchers have questioned whether infants have this motivation. In the current study, an adult reacted to 12-month-olds’ pointing in different ways, and infants’ responses were observed. Results showed that when the adult shared attention and interest (i.e. alternated gaze and emoted), infants pointed more frequently across trials and tended to prolong each point – presumably to prolong the satisfying interaction. However, when the adult emoted to the infant alone or looked only to the event, infants pointed less across trials and repeated points more within trials – presumably in an attempt to establish joint attention. Results suggest that 12-month-olds point declaratively and understand that others have psychological states that can be directed and shared.

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