Infants communicate in order to be understood.
Infants intentionally communicate with others from before their 1st birthday. But there is some question about how they understand the communicative process. Do they understand that for their request to work the recipient must both understand the request and be cooperatively disposed to fulfill it? On the basis of the study by Shwe and Markman (1997), we developed a new paradigm that tested whether and how 18-, 24-, and 30-month-old children repair a failed request. Children at all ages repaired their requests in the case of a misunderstanding even if they had obtained the requested object already. They also repaired differently depending on the precise reason for the communicative failure (e.g., misunderstanding the referent versus the communicative intent) and did not repair in the case of correct understanding, even if they did not get the requested object. Thus, from very early in their communicative careers, young children operate with a basic understanding of the mental and cooperative nature of human communication.
Grosse, G; Behne, T; Carpenter, M; Tomasello, M
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