Three-year-olds hide their communicative intentions in appropriate contexts.
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Human cooperative communication involves both an informative intention that the recipient understands the content of the signal and also a (Gricean) communicative intention that the recipient recognizes that the speaker has an informative intention. The degree to which children understand this 2-layered nature of communication is the subject of some debate. One phenomenon that would seem to constitute clear evidence of such understanding is hidden authorship, in which informative acts are produced but with the communicative intent behind them intentionally hidden. In this study, 3- and 5-year-old children were told that an adult was seeking a toy but wanted to find it on her own. Children of both ages often did something to make the toy easier for the adult to see while at the same time concealing their actions in some way. This suggests that by the age of 3, children are able to separate the multiple layers of intentionality involved in human cooperative communication.
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Published Version (Please cite this version)10.1037/a0032017
Publication InfoGrosse, G; Scott-Phillips, TC; & Tomasello, Michael (2013). Three-year-olds hide their communicative intentions in appropriate contexts. Dev Psychol, 49(11). pp. 2095-2101. 10.1037/a0032017. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/13647.
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James F. Bonk Professor
Major research interests in processes of social cognition, social learning, cooperation, and communication from developmental, comparative, and cultural perspectives. Current theoretical focus on processes of shared intentionality. Empirical research mainly with human children from 1 to 4 years of age and great apes.