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Joint Attention in Apes and Humans: Are Humans Unique?

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Joint attention is the ability to intentionally co-orient towards a common focus. This ability develops in a protracted, mosaic fashion in humans. We review evidence of joint attention in humans and great apes, finding that great apes display every phenomenon described as joint attention in humans, although there is consid-erable variation among apes of different rearing histories. We conclude that there is little evidence for human species-unique cognitive adaptations in the non-verbal communication of humans in the first 18 months of life. This conclusion is consistent with the Narrative Practice Hypothesis (NPH) because the NPH posits training in folk psychological narratives as a basis for folk psychological competence.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Psychology Department, School of Life Sciences, University of, Email: [email protected] 2: Sussex, Falmer, East Sussex, BN1 9QH

Publication date: 2009-01-01

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