Infants use shared experience to interpret pointing gestures.
We investigated whether 1-year-old infants use their shared experience with an adult to determine the meaning of a pointing gesture. In the first study, after two adults had each shared a different activity with the infant, one of the adults pointed to a target object. Eighteen- but not 14-month-olds responded appropriately to the pointing gesture based on the particular activity they had previously shared with that particular adult. In the second study, 14-month-olds were successful in a simpler procedure in which the pointing adult either had or had not shared a relevant activity with the infant prior to the pointing. Infants just beginning to learn language thus already show a complex understanding of the pragmatics of cooperative communication in which shared experience with particular individuals plays a crucial role.
Liebal, K; Behne, T; Carpenter, M; Tomasello, M
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