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Effects of attentional behaviours on infant visual preferences and object choice

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Many developmental studies have examined the effects of joint attention. However, it has been difficult to compare effects of initiating joint attention and responding to joint attention in infants. Here, we compared the effects of initiating joint attention and responding joint attention on object information processing, object preference, and facial preferences in infants. Thirty-seven infants (10 to 12 months of age) were shown stimuli in which a female gazed towards or away from an object. Participants were assigned to initiating joint attention condition or responding joint attention condition. Results suggest that initiating joint attention promoted object information processing, whereas responding joint attention did not. Both joint attention conditions affected the facial preference for the person who engaged joint attention. In addition, after initiating joint attention, infants chose objects gazed by other person more often than after responding joint attention. It appears that attentional behaviours that precede the perception of certain stimuli affect infants’ cognitive responses to those stimuli.

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We appreciate the cooperation of all families that agreed to participate in this study. We would also like to thank the anonymous reviewers and colleagues who have given us useful feedback.


Young Fellowship grants to M.I from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and Grants to S.I from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (#25245067 and #16H06301) supported the research.

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Authors and Affiliations



M.I. developed the study concept and conducted experiments and data analysis. All authors approved the experiment design and discussed about the results. S.I. supervised this study.

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Correspondence to Mitsuhiko Ishikawa.

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Authors have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical standard

Our experimental protocol was approved by the Research Ethics Review Board of the Department of Psychology, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan (protocol no. 28-P-12). The study was carried out in accordance with the provisions of the World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki.

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All participants gave their written informed consent to participate. All stimuli were originally created for this study, and persons represented in the figure were given informed consent and permitted to publish the images in all formats.

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Handling editor: Katsumi Watanabe (Waseda University); Reviewers: Alicja Niedźwiecka (University of Warsaw), Ilaria Taglialatela Scafati (University of Edinburgh).

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Ishikawa, M., Yoshimura, M., Sato, H. et al. Effects of attentional behaviours on infant visual preferences and object choice. Cogn Process 20, 317–324 (2019).

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