Pointing as epistemic request: 12-month-olds point to receive new information

Ágnes Melinda Kovács, Tibor Tauzin, Erno Téglás, György Gergely, Gergely Csibra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Citations (Scopus)


Infants start pointing systematically to objects or events around their first birthday. It has been proposed that infants point to an event to share their appreciation of it with others. In this study, we tested another hypothesis, according to which infants' pointing could also serve as an epistemic request directed to the adult. Thus, infants' motivation for pointing could include the expectation that adults would provide new information about the referent. In two experiments, an adult reacted to 12-month-olds' pointing gestures by exhibiting "Informing" or "Sharing" behavior. In response, infants pointed more frequently across trials in the Informing than in the Sharing condition. This suggests that the feedback that contained new information matched infants' expectations more than mere attention sharing. Such a result is consistent with the idea that not just the comprehension but also the production of early communicative signals is tuned to assist infants' learning from others.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543-557
Number of pages15
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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