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Fourteen-month-olds know what others experience only in joint engagement

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    Infants did notice the experimenter's presence. Coding of infants’ looks revealed that infants looked to the experimenter for the same amount of time in this condition as in the Joint Engagement condition.

Address for correspondence: Henrike Moll, Department of Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Deutscher Platz 6, 04103 Leipzig, Germany; e-mail: moll@eva.mpg.de

Abstract

We investigated how 14-month-old infants know what others know. In two studies, an infant played with each of two objects in turn while an experimenter was present. Then the experimenter left the room, and the infant played with a third object with an assistant. The experimenter returned, faced all three objects, and said excitedly ‘Look! Can you give it to me?’ In Study 1, the experimenter experienced each of the first two toys in episodes of joint visual engagement (without manipulation) with the infant. In response to her excited request infants gave the experimenter the object she did not know, thus demonstrating that they knew which ones she knew. In Study 2, infants witnessed the experimenter jointly engage around each of the experienced toys with the assistant, from a third-person perspective. In response to her request, infants did not give the experimenter the object she had not experienced. In combination with other studies, these results suggest that to know what others have experienced 14-month-old infants must do more than just perceive others perceiving something; they must engage with them actively in joint engagement.

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