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Cognition. 2008 Sep;108(3):732-9. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2008.06.013. Epub 2008 Aug 21.

Twelve-month-olds communicate helpfully and appropriately for knowledgeable and ignorant partners.

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Communication Before Language Group, Max-Planck-Institute for Psycholinguistics, Wundtlaan 1, 6525 XD Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


In the current study we investigated whether 12-month-old infants gesture appropriately for knowledgeable versus ignorant partners, in order to provide them with needed information. In two experiments we found that in response to a searching adult, 12-month-olds pointed more often to an object whose location the adult did not know and thus needed information to find (she had not seen it fall down just previously) than to an object whose location she knew and thus did not need information to find (she had watched it fall down just previously). These results demonstrate that, in contrast to classic views of infant communication, infants' early pointing at 12 months is already premised on an understanding of others' knowledge and ignorance, along with a prosocial motive to help others by providing needed information.

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