Human twelve-month-olds point cooperatively to share interest with and helpfully provide information for a communicative partner
Human twelve-month-olds point cooperatively to share interest with and helpfully provide information for a communicative partner. In K. Liebal, C. Müller, & S. Pika (Eds.
), Gestural communication in nonhuman and human primates
(pp. 124-140). Amsterdam: Benjamins.
This paper investigates infant pointing at 12 months. Three recent experimental
studies from our lab are reported and contrasted with existing
accounts on infant communicative and social-cognitive abilities. The new
results show that infant pointing at 12 months already is a communicative
act which involves the intentional transmission of information to share
interest with, or provide information for other persons. It is argued that
infant pointing is an inherently social and cooperative act which is used to
share psychological relations between interlocutors and environment, repairs
misunderstandings in proto-conversational turn-taking, and helps others by
providing information. Infant pointing builds on an understanding of others
as persons with attentional states and attitudes. Findings do not support lean
accounts on early infant pointing which posit that it is initially non-communicative,
does not serve the function of indicating, or is purely self-centered.
It is suggested to investigate the emergence of reference and the motivation
to jointly engage with others also before pointing has emerged.