During the first years of life, typically developing infants respond to and actively engage their caregivers' attention in increasingly complex ways, leading to mutually enjoyable interactions. How infants learn to understand others' attention is an important developmental milestone, but this process is not well understood and has generated considerable debate. I critique a cognitivist theory and endorse an action-based, relational approach, according to which infants' understanding of others' attention develops gradually as they learn how others respond to their actions. This perspective informs my analysis of three longitudinal case studies of infants and caregivers engaged in typical daily interactions. These observations are consistent with the view that practical, lived experience of interaction helps infants to learn how they can engage others' attention to themselves. Although each infant developed ways of eliciting others' attention, they did so in different ways based on their experiences of familiar social routines with their caregivers.
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Thesis advisor: Carpendale, Jeremy
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