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Bids for joint attention by parent–child dyads and by dyads of young peers in interaction*

  • ANAT NINIO (a1)

Abstract

Before they are 3;0–3;6, children typically do not engage with peers in focused interaction, although they do with adults. With parents, children interact around the ‘here-and-now’. We hypothesize that young peers do not attempt to establish joint attention to present objects. Using the CHILDES database, we compared attention-directives produced by parents to children, children to peers, and children to parents. Of 391 English-speaking parents, 88% generated attention-directives, mostly Look!, See!, and Watch! Of 15 children (2;10–3;7) engaging in dyadic peer-interaction, only 26% produced such utterances. By comparison, 62% of 268 children (1;2–3;3) addressed such directives to parents. Interaction with peers in young children does not involve joint attention to a shared environmental focus, although it does with parents. The reason may be pragmatic: shared attention in parent–child dyads is a means to get information or help; it may seem pointless for a child to address such directives to a peer.

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Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Anat Ninio, Department of Psychology, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem 91905, Israel. e-mail: Anat.Ninio@huji.ac.il

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[*]

Construction of the speech corpora and syntactic annotation were supported under Grant 200900206 to Anat Ninio by the Spencer Foundation. Parts of this research were presented at the 13th International Congress for the Study of Child Language, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, July 2014. I would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.

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Bids for joint attention by parent–child dyads and by dyads of young peers in interaction*

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