Joint Attention Paper

Decent Essays

The motivation to point out and share aspects of the world with others seems to be a unique characteristic of human beings. In the months leading up to an infant's’ first birthday, the ability to demonstrate gestural communication can be discerned from pointing. Infant pointing is thought to be an important part of the prelinguistic period, preparing children for the emergence of language. A prerequisite for the production of pointing gestures is a shared experience between both the signaler and the recipient of the gesture, that is, a simultaneous engagement with the same external referent usually referred to as joint attention (Carpenter, Nagell, & Tomasello, 1998). The standard definition of joint attention according to Tomasello (1995) signifies deep mentalistic understanding from both parties. In other words, “two individuals know that they are attending to something in common,” (Tomasello, 1995, as cited in Racine, 2012, p.26). This may very well be the case when considering linguistic children and adults, however, is questionable when looking at prelinguistic infants who have yet to develop the …show more content…

The long-standing question in joint attention research, as described by Tomasello, Carpenter, and Liszkowski (2007) are “the current theoretical debates about infant pointing and prelinguistic communication center [around] whether the most accurate interpretation is a cognitively rich or cognitively lean one” (p.705). The arguably dominant rich interpretations of the debate suggest that infant pointing is intended to influence the mental and intentional states of others. Conversely, the lean interpretations of infant pointing suggest that infants are merely trying to bring about a behavioural response in others, without necessarily understanding them as

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