Infants' visual and auditory communication when a partner is or is not visually attending

Ulf Liszkowski*, Konstanze Albrecht, Malinda Carpenter, Michael Tomasello

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


In the current study we investigated infants' communication in the visual and auditory modalities as a function of the recipient's visual attention. We elicited pointing at interesting events from thiny-two 12-month olds and thirty-two 18-month olds in two conditions: when the recipient either was or was not visually attending to them before and during the point. The main result was that infants initiated more pointing when the recipient's visual attention was on them than when it was not. In addition, when the recipient did not respond by sharing interest in the designated event, infants initiated more repairs (repeated pointing) than when she did, again, especially when the recipient was visually attending to them. Interestingly, accompanying vocalizations were used intentionally and increased in both experimental conditions when the recipient did not share attention and interest. However, there was little evidence that infants used their vocalizations to direct attention to their gestures when the recipient was not attending to them. (C) 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-167
Number of pages11
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2008


  • pointing
  • vocalizing
  • infant communication
  • understanding attention
  • communicative looks
  • message repair
  • cross-modal communication


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