Three-year-olds hide their communicative intentions in appropriate contexts.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Human cooperative communication involves both an informative intention that the recipient understands the content of the signal and also a (Gricean) communicative intention that the recipient recognizes that the speaker has an informative intention. The degree to which children understand this 2-layered nature of communication is the subject of some debate. One phenomenon that would seem to constitute clear evidence of such understanding is hidden authorship, in which informative acts are produced but with the communicative intent behind them intentionally hidden. In this study, 3- and 5-year-old children were told that an adult was seeking a toy but wanted to find it on her own. Children of both ages often did something to make the toy easier for the adult to see while at the same time concealing their actions in some way. This suggests that by the age of 3, children are able to separate the multiple layers of intentionality involved in human cooperative communication.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Grosse, G; Scott-Phillips, TC; Tomasello, M

Published Date

  • November 2013

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 49 / 11

Start / End Page

  • 2095 - 2101

PubMed ID

  • 23477533

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1939-0599

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0012-1649

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1037/a0032017


  • eng