Pointing out new news, old news, and absent referents at 12 months of age

Ulf Liszkowski*, Malinda Carpenter, Michael Tomasello

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

139 Citations (Scopus)


There is currently controversy over the nature of 1-year-olds' social-cognitive understanding and motives. In this study we investigated whether 12-month-old infants point for others with an understanding of their knowledge states and with a prosocial motive for sharing experiences with them. Declarative pointing was elicited in four conditions created by crossing two factors: an adult partner (1) was already attending to the target event or not, and (2) emoted positively or neutrally. Pointing was also coded after the event had ceased. The findings suggest that 12-month-olds point to inform others of events they do not know about, that they point to share an attitude about mutually attended events others already know about, and that they can point (already prelinguistically) to absent referents. These findings provide strong support for a mentalistic and prosocial interpretation of infants' prelinguistic communication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
JournalDevelopmental Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2007




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