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Perception, Causation, and Objectivity$
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Johannes Roessler, Hemdat Lerman, and Naomi Eilan

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199692040

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199692040.001.0001

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Perspective-Taking and its Foundation in Joint Attention

Perspective-Taking and its Foundation in Joint Attention

(p.286) 16 Perspective-Taking and its Foundation in Joint Attention
Perception, Causation, and Objectivity

Henrike Moll

Andy Meltzoff

Oxford University Press

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

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