Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Prelinguistic Infants, but Not Chimpanzees, Communicate About Absent Entities

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Author(s)

Ulf Liszkowski, Marie Schaefer, Malinda Carpenter, Michael Tomasello

School/Research organisations

Abstract

One of the defining features of human language is displacement, the ability to make reference to absent entities. Here we show that prelinguistic, 12-month-old infants already can use a nonverbal pointing gesture to make reference to absent entities. We also show that chimpanzees-who can point for things they want humans to give them-do not point to refer to absent entities in the same way. These results demonstrate that the ability to communicate about absent but mutually known entities depends not on language, but rather on deeper social-cognitive skills that make acts of linguistic reference possible in the first place. These nonlinguistic skills for displaced reference emerged apparently only after humans' divergence from great apes some 6 million years ago.

Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)654-660
Number of pages7
JournalPsychological Science
Volume20
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2009

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Meeting the challenges of public engagement, research impact, and research participation as a baby and child lab

    Salter, G., Altdoerfer, T., Brown, G. & Carpenter, M., 18 Mar 2021, (Accepted/In press) In: Research for All.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  2. Young children share more under time pressure than after a delay

    Ploetner, M., Hepach, R., Over, H., Carpenter, M. & Tomasello, M., 16 Mar 2021, In: PLoS One. 16, 3, 10 p., e0248121.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. Common knowledge that help is needed increases helping behavior in children

    Siposova, B., Grueneisen, S., Helming, K., Tomasello, M. & Carpenter, M., Jan 2021, In: Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 201, 104973.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  4. A new look at joint attention and common knowledge

    Siposova, B. & Carpenter, M., Aug 2019, In: Cognition. 189, p. 260-274 15 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  5. Communicative eye contact signals a commitment to cooperate for young children

    Siposova, B., Tomasello, M. & Carpenter, M., Oct 2018, In: Cognition. 179, p. 192-201

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Related by journal

  1. Learning novel skills from iconic gestures: a developmental and evolutionary perspective

    Bohn, M., Kordt, C., Braun, M., Call, J. & Tomasello, M., 26 May 2020, In: Psychological Science. Online First, 8 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  2. Integrating approaches requires more than a division of labour: commentary on Wӧlfer & Hewstone

    Cross, C. P. & Campbell, A., Feb 2017, In: Psychological Science. 28, 2, p. 248-250

    Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

  3. Young children show the bystander effect in helping situations

    Plötner, M., Over, H., Carpenter, M. & Tomasello, M., 1 Apr 2015, In: Psychological Science. 26, 4, p. 499-506

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  4. Forgiving you is hard, but forgetting seems easy: can forgiveness facilitate forgetting?

    Noreen, S., Bierman, R. & MacLeod, M. D., Jul 2014, In: Psychological Science. 25, 7, p. 1295-1302

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  5. Great apes generate goal-based action predictions: an eye-tracking study

    Kano, F. & Call, J., 27 Sep 2014, In: Psychological Science. 25, 9, p. 1691-1698 8 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

ID: 78731621

Top