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Differences in the nonverbal requests of Great Apes and human infants

Van der Goot, M. H., Tomasello, M., & Liszkowski, U. (2014). Differences in the nonverbal requests of Great Apes and human infants. Child Development., 85(2), 444-455. doi:10.1111/cdev.12141.
This study investigated how great apes and human infants use imperative pointing to request objects. In a series of three experiments (infants, N = 44; apes, N = 12), subjects were given the opportunity to either point to a desired object from a distance or else to approach closer and request it proximally. The apes always approached close to the object, signaling their request through instrumental actions. In contrast, the infants quite often stayed at a distance, directing the experimenters' attention to the desired object through index-finger pointing, even when the object was in the open and they could obtain it by themselves. Findings distinguish 12-month-olds' imperative pointing from ontogenetic and phylogenetic earlier forms of ritualized reaching.
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The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics is an institute of the German Max Planck Society. Our mission is to undertake basic research into the psychological,social and biological foundations of language. The goal is to understand how our minds and brains process language, how language interacts with other aspects of mind, and how we can learn languages of quite different types.

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