Chapter

Perspective-Taking and its Foundation in Joint Attention

Henrike Moll and Andy Meltzoff

in Perception, Causation, and Objectivity

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199692040
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729713 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199692040.003.0016

Series: Consciousness & Self-Consciousness Series

Perspective-Taking and its Foundation in Joint Attention

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We propose a new developmental model that unites two phenomena that have so far been studied in isolation: joint attention in infancy and perspective-taking in young childhood. In this model, infants' abilities to jointly attend to objects and events with others, even though it does not require any understanding of perspectives, provides the necessary foundation and sets the stage for the later emerging ability to understand perspectives. Any perspectival difference presupposes a shared object onto which the perspectives converge—joint attention constitutes this shared object of perception. The understanding of perspectives then develops in two distinct steps. First, infants and young children learn to take perspectives, which allows them to understand others' speech acts and actions involving (perceptual, epistemic, or conceptual) perspectives that differ from their own. Second, children between 4 and 5 years of age come to confront perspectives: they can now explicitly acknowledge that the same object may be viewed or construed in alternative ways. This way of looking at children's developing social cognition sheds new light on the ‘old' problem of theory of mind.t

Keywords: social cognition; joint attention; perspective-taking; theory of mind; cognitive development

Chapter.  9630 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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