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Title page for ETD etd-03312008-145916

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Presmanes, Alison Greer
URN etd-03312008-145916
Title Conflicting signals: How gaze and point cues influence infants' attention-following
Degree PhD
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Tedra A. Walden Committee Chair
Georgene L. Troseth Committee Member
Megan M. Saylor Committee Member
Paul J. Yoder Committee Member
  • point-following
  • gaze-following
  • intentional communication
  • attention-following
  • Attention in infants
  • Interpersonal communication in infants
  • Gaze -- Psychological aspects
Date of Defense 2008-03-25
Availability unrestricted
The addition of points to shifts in gaze reliably increases attention-following for one-year-old infants. However, because gaze and point cues have been coupled in previous studies, it is not known whether social partners’ head/gaze cues affect infants’ point-following. The purpose of the current study was to determine whether infants’ responses to points are influenced by the head/gaze orientation of the social partner. Twelve- to 23-month-old infants played with toys while an adult periodically attempted to re-direct the infant’s attention by pointing toward one of several distal objects while either looking at the object (gaze-at-target plus point) or looking down at her lap (gaze-at-lap plus point). Attention-following was also measured in response to head/gaze shifts (gaze-only). Infants were significantly more likely to follow attention when points were added to gaze shifts. In addition, infants were more likely to follow points when the adult also gazed at the object than when she gazed down at her lap. The effects of verbal cues on attention-following in response to each type of non-verbal cue were also examined. The results shed light on how infants interpret others’ attention-directing behaviors in order to respond to conflicting referential cues.
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