Joint Attention in Human and Chimpanzee Infants in Varied Socio-Ecological Contexts
Volume 86, Issue 4, Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development
By Kim A. Bard, Heidi Keller, Kirsty M. Ross, Barry Hewlett, Lauren Butler, Sarah T. Boysen, and Tetsuro Matsuzawa
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Joint attention (infants engaging with a partner about a shared topic) is thought by developmental theorists to foster children’s understanding of others’ minds, and by evolutionary theorists to mark human-unique social cognition. However, most investigators prioritize those behavioral forms found in western, middle-class, mother-infant pairs. In their monograph, Kim Bard and colleagues decolonize the study of joint attention by using culturally inclusive definitions (joint engagement [JE]); studying samples of human (n=30) and chimpanzee (n=21) infants from diverse settings (farming communities in Cameroon, foraging communities in Central African Republic and Tanzania, and urban communities in Japan, England, & US); and conducting naturalistic observations in everyday contexts (video-recordings made between 1993 and 2010). Data showed JE occurring frequently in all infants (supporting normativity), revealed substantial within species variation in behavioral forms (supporting contextualization), and offered no evidence of human-uniqueness. Authors argue for rebuilding developmental and evolutionary theories of social cognition on culturally inclusive foundations.
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About the Authors
Joint Engagement as a Triadic State and Joint Attention as an Infant Skill Shared by Humans and Chimpanzees by Roger Bakeman and Katharine Suma
Five Problems with Evolutionary and Developmental Theories of Social Cognition
SRCD Monograph author Kim Bard presents five problems underpinning evolutionary and developmental theories of social cognition.
Positive Change for Theories of Social Cognition
SRCD Monograph author Kim Bard and her co-authors propose four steps toward achieving positive change in theories of social cognition: decolonize, use new design, focus on inclusivity, and revise theories.
Origins of Research on Comparative and Cross-Cultural Joint Attention
How can varied interests in human development, anthropology, and primatology be blended to create a new research topic?
Decolonizing the Study of Joint Attention
What does it mean to decolonize the study of joint attention, and how can it be done?
Developmental Importance of Joint Attention and Cross-Cultural Variation
Why is joint attention important for child development, and how does it vary across cultures?
Implications of an Inclusive Approach to Joint Attention
What are the implications of studying joint attention inclusively, across cultures and across species?