Infants’ Developing Understanding of Social Gaze


  • We are grateful to the infants and families who participated. This research was funded by NSF GRF DGE-0644491 to J.S.B. and NIH grant 5R01HD023103-23 to E.S.S.

concerning this article should be addressed to Jonathan S. Beier, Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, Biology/Psychology Building, College Park, MD 20742. Electronic mail may be sent to


Young infants are sensitive to self-directed social actions, but do they appreciate the intentional, target-directed nature of such behaviors? The authors addressed this question by investigating infants’ understanding of social gaze in third-party interactions (= 104). Ten-month-old infants discriminated between 2 people in mutual versus averted gaze, and expected a person to look at her social partner during conversation. In contrast, 9-month-old infants showed neither ability, even when provided with information that highlighted the gazer’s social goals. These results indicate considerable improvement in infants’ abilities to analyze the social gaze of others toward the end of their 1st year, which may relate to their appreciation of gaze as both a social and goal-directed action.