Pointing behavior in infants reflects the communication partner's attentional and knowledge states: A possible case of spontaneous informing

Xianwei Meng, Kazuhide Hashiya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Inferring the epistemic states of others is considered to be an essential requirement for humans to communicate; however, the developmental trajectory of this ability is unclear. The aim of the current study was to determine developmental trends in this ability by using pointing behavior as a dependent measure. Infants aged 13 to 18 months (n = 32, 16 females) participated in the study. The experiment consisted of two phases. In the Shared Experience Phase, both the participant and the experimenter experienced (played with) an object, and the participant experienced a second object while the experimenter was absent. In the Pointing Phase, the participant was seated on his/her mother's lap, facing the experimenter, and the same two objects from the Shared Experience Phase were presented side-by-side behind the experimenter. The participants' spontaneous pointing was analyzed from video footage. While the analysis of the Shared Experience Phase suggested that there was no significant difference in the duration of the participants' visual attention to the two objects, the participants pointed more frequently to the object that could be considered ''new'' for the experimenter (in Experiment 1). This selective pointing was not observed when the experimenter could be considered unfamiliar with both of the objects (in Experiment 2). These findings suggest that infants in this age group spontaneously point, presumably to inform about an object, reflecting the partner's attentional and knowledge states.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere107579
JournalPloS one
Volume9
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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