Around their first birthdays, typically developing infants begin to use various object-extension gestures. However, the processes through which they develop are not well understood. In this thesis, I contrast two metatheoretical approaches to explaining gesture development. I review and offer a critique of cognitivist approaches and argue for an action-based approach, according to which intentional gestures develop within enjoyable shared routines. Based on this approach, I describe and trace the development of object-extension gestures longitudinally in two infant–caregiver dyads. Consistent with the current action-based approach, I found that (1) both dyads organized their activities into enjoyable shared routines within which infants' object-extensions played a role before infants were using object-extensions intentionally as gestures, and (2) infants' object-extensions developed into means through which infants elicited these prior routines. These findings suggest that object-extension gestures develop within shared routines as infants learn the meaning that their actions have for others.
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Thesis advisor: Carpendale, Jeremy
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