The control of social attention from 1 to 4 months

Oliver Perra, Merideth Gattis

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21 Citations (Scopus)


The control of social attention during early infancy was investigated in two studies. In both studies, an adult turned towards one of two targets within the infant's immediate visual field. We tested: (a) whether infants were able to follow the direction of the adult's head turn; and (b) whether following a head turn was accompanied by further gaze shifts between experimenter and target. In the first study, 1-month-olds did not demonstrate attention following at the group level. In addition, those infants who turned towards the same target remained fixed on it and did not shift attention again. In Study 2, we tested infants longitudinally at 2-4 months. At the group level, infants followed the adult's head turn at 3 and 4 months but not at 2 months. Those infants who turned towards the same target at 3 and 4 months also shifted gaze back and forth between experimenter and target. By 3 months, infants seem able to capitalize on the social environment to disengage and distribute attention more flexibly. The results support the claim that the control of social attention begins in early infancy, and are consistent with the hypothesis that following the attention of other people is dependent on the development of disengagement skills.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)891-908
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Developmental Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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