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The development of joint visual attention: a longitudinal study of gaze following during interactions with mothers and strangers


Gustaf Gredebäck, Department of Psychology, University of Oslo, 0317 Blindern, Oslo, Norway; e-mail:


Two- to 8-month-old infants interacted with their mother or a stranger in a prospective longitudinal gaze following study. Gaze following, as assessed by eye tracking, emerged between 2 and 4 months and stabilized between 6 and 8 months of age. Overall, infants followed the gaze of a stranger more than they followed the gaze of their mothers, demonstrating a stranger preference that emerged between 4 and 6 months of age. These findings do not support the notion that infants acquire gaze following through reinforcement learning. Instead, the findings are discussed with respect to the social cognitive framework, suggesting that young infants are driven by social cognitive motives in their interactions with others.