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Abstract

When do infants begin to communicate positive affect about physical objects to their social partners? We examined developmental changes in the timing of smiles during episodes of initiating joint attention that involved an infant gazing between an object and a social partner. Twenty-six typically developing infants were observed at 8, 10, and 12 months during the Early Social-Communication Scales, a semistructured assessment for eliciting initiating joint attention and related behaviors. The proportion of infant smiling during initiating joint attention episodes did not change with age, but there was a change in the timing of the smiles. The likelihood of infants smiling at an object and then gazing at the experimenter while smiling (anticipatory smiling) increased between 8 and 10 months and remained stable between 10 and 12 months. The increase in the number of infants who smiled at an object and then made eye contact suggests a developing ability to communicate positive affect about an object.