Advertisement

The Cognitive Implications of Intentional Communication: A Multifaceted Mirror

  • David A. Leavens
Chapter
Part of the Interdisciplinary Evolution Research book series (IDER)

Abstract

There is a central concern in contemporary cognitive science with the validity of the use of epistemic and intentional terms to interpret the communication patterns of non-human animals. Here I argue (a) that the human developmental transition to intentional communication is a well-described phenomenon, from an empirical standpoint; (b) that the behavioural patterns that characterise intentional communication in our own species are also well-described in the communication of our nearest living relatives, the great apes; (c) that the presence of the behavioural markers for intentional communication in non-human primates does not unambiguously implicate any particular one of a large number of often mutually contradictory hypothetical psychological process models; and (d) that intentional communication by young humans is also consistent with hypothetical process models that are, themselves, mutually contradictory. Intentional communication is a class of behaviour that is open to public, objective measurement. In contrast, the hypothetical cognitive processes supporting intentional communication in both human and non-human animals are not specified by the fact that intentional communication has occurred—they could not be, except when there is an unambiguous behavioural index of invisible psychological processes, which is a contradiction in terms. In this chapter, I will examine a number of contemporary scientific practices that purportedly reveal aspects of psychological processes underlying intentional communication and demonstrate the deficiencies of these protocols. In general, these methodological infelicities support a systematic, discipline-wide double standard of interpretation of the communication of animals and humans. I will conclude that there is no convincing evidence extant of different psychological processes in the intentional communication of apes and preverbal humans.

Keywords

Social cognition Hominoidea Species comparisons Idols of the Theatre Great apes Intentional communication Experimental methods 

References

  1. Austin JL (1962) How to do things with words. Clarendon Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  2. Bacon F (1620) Novum organum. P. F. Collier & Son, New York (1902 edition)Google Scholar
  3. Bard KA (1992) Intentional behavior and intentional communication in young free-ranging orangutans. Child Dev 62:1186–1197CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bard KA, Leavens DA (2014) The importance of development for comparative primatology. Annu Rev Anthropol 43:183–200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bard KA, Bakeman R, Boysen ST, Leavens DA (2014) Emotional engagements predict and enhance social cognition in young chimpanzees. Dev Sci 17:682–696CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  6. Baron-Cohen S (1989) Perceptual role taking and protodeclarative pointing in autism. Br J Dev Psychol 7:113–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bates E, Camaioni L, Volterra V (1975) Performatives prior to speech. Merrill-Palmer Q 21:205–226Google Scholar
  8. Bates E, Benigni L, Bretherton I, Camaioni L, Volterra V (1977) From gesture to the first word: on the nature of cognitive and social prerequisites. In: Lewis M, Rosenblum L (eds) Interaction, conversation and the development of language. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  9. Boesch C (2012) Wild cultures: a comparison between chimpanzee and human cultures. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Burkart JM, Hrdy SB, van Schaik CP (2009) Cooperative breeding and human cognitive evolution. Evol Anthropol 18:175–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Butterworth G, Grover L (1988) The origins of referential communication in human infancy. In: Weiskrantz L (ed) Thought without language. Clarendon Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  12. Butterworth G (2003) Pointing is the royal road to language for babies. In: Kita S (ed) Pointing: where language, culture, and cognition meet. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, NJGoogle Scholar
  13. Call J, Tomasello M (1994) Production and comprehension of referential pointing by orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus). J Comp Psychol 108:307–317CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Carpenter M, Call J (2013) How joint is the joint attention of apes and human infants? In: Metcalf J, Terrace HS (eds) Agency and joint attention. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  15. Carpenter M, Liebal K (2012) Joint attention, communication, and knowing together in infancy. In: Seemann A (ed) Joint attention: new developments in psychology, philosophy of mind, and social neuroscience. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  16. Cartmill EA, Byrne RW (2007) Orangutans modify their gestural signaling according to their audience’s comprehension. Curr Biol 17:1345–1348CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Douglas PH, Moscovice LR (2015) Pointing and pantomime in wild apes? Female bonobos use referential and iconic gestures to request genito-genital rubbing. Sci Rep 5:13999CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  18. Golinkoff RM (1986) ‘I beg your pardon’: the preverbal negotiation of failed messages. J Child Lang 13:455–476CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Gómez J-C (2007) Pointing behaviors in apes and human infants: a balanced interpretation. Child Dev 78:729–734CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Gómez J-C (2009) Embodying meaning: insights from primates, autism, and Brentano. Neural Netw 22:190–196CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Herrmann E, Call J, Hernandez-Lloreda MV, Hare B, Tomasello M (2007) Humans have evolved specialized skills of social cognition: the cultural intelligence hypothesis. Science 317:1360–1366CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Hobaiter C, Leavens DA, Byrne RW (2014) Deictic gesturing in wild chimpanzees? Some possible cases. J Comp Psychol 128:82–87CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Hopkins WD, Taglialatela JP, Leavens DA (2007) Chimpanzees differentially produce novel vocalizations to capture the attention of a human. Anim Behav 73:281–286CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  24. Hopkins WD, Taglialatela JP, Leavens DA (2011) Do chimpanzees have voluntary control of their facial expressions and vocalizations? In: Vilain A, Schwartz J-L, Abry C, Vauclair J (eds) Primate communication and human language: vocalisation, gestures, imitation and deixis in humans and non-humans. John Benjamins, Amsterdam, pp 71–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Itakura S, Agnetta B, Hare B, Tomasello M (1999) Chimpanzee use of human and conspecific social cues to locate hidden food. Dev Sci 2:448–456CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kirchhofer KC, Zimmermann F, Kaminski J, Tomasello M (2012) Dogs (Canis familiaris), but not chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), understand imperative pointing. PLoS One 7(2):e30913CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  27. Krause MA, Fouts RS (1997) Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) pointing: hand shapes, accuracy, and the role of eye gaze. J Comp Psychol 111:330–336CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Leavens DA (2012a) Pointing: contexts and instrumentality. In: Pika S, Liebal K (eds) Current developments in primate gesture research. John Benjamins, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  29. Leavens DA (2012b) Joint attention: twelve myths. In: Seemann A (ed) Joint attention: new developments in psychology, philosophy of mind, and social neuroscience. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  30. Leavens DA (2014) The plight of the sense-making ape. In: Cappuccio M, Froese T (eds) Enactive cognition at the edge of sense-making. Palgrave Macmillan, BasingstokeGoogle Scholar
  31. Leavens DA, Bard KA (2011) Environmental influences on joint attention in great apes: implications for human cognition. J Cogn Educ Psychol 10:9–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Leavens DA, Hopkins WD (1998) Intentional communication by chimpanzees: a cross-sectional study of the use of referential gestures. Dev Psychol 34:813–822CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  33. Leavens DA, Hopkins WD, Thomas RK (2004a) Referential communication by chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). J Comp Psychol 118:48–57CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Leavens DA, Hostetter AB, Wesley MJ, Hopkins WD (2004b) Tactical use of unimodal and bimodal communication by chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes. Anim Behav 67:467–476CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Leavens DA, Russell JL, Hopkins WD (2005a) Intentionality as measured in the persistence and elaboration of communication by chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Child Dev 76:291–306CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  36. Leavens DA, Hopkins WD, Bard KA (2005b) Understanding the point of chimpanzee pointing: epigenesis and ecological validity. Curr Dir Psychol Sci 14:185–189CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  37. Leavens DA, Hopkins WD, Bard KA (2008) The heterochronic origins of explicit reference. In: Zlatev J, Racine T, Sinha C, Itkonen E (eds) The shared mind: perspectives on intersubjectivity. John Benjamins, Amsterdam, pp 187–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Leavens DA, Bard KA, Hopkins WD (2010) BIZARRE chimpanzees do not represent “the chimpanzee”. Behav Brain Sci 33:100–101CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Leavens DA, Sansone J, Burfield AR, Lightfoot S, O’Hara S, Todd BK (2014) Putting the ‘joy’ in joint attention: affective-gestural synchrony by parents who point for their babies. Front Psychol 5(879):1–7Google Scholar
  40. Leavens DA, Reamer LA, Mareno MC, Russell JL, Wilson D, Schapiro SJ, Hopkins WD (2015) Distal communication by chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes): evidence for common ground? Child Dev 86:1623–1638CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  41. Leavens DA, Bard KA, Hopkins WD (2017) The mismeasure of ape social cognition. Anim Cogn. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10071-017-1119-1 (Published online in advance of print)
  42. Liszkowski U, Carpenter M, Henning A, Striano T, Tomasello M (2004) Twelve-month-olds point to share attention and interest. Dev Sci 7:297–307CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Lock A (2001) Preverbal communication. In: Bremner JG, Fogel A (eds) Blackwell handbook of infant development. Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  44. Lyn H, Russell JL, Hopkins WD (2010) The impact of environment on the comprehension of declarative communication in apes. Psychol Sci 21:360–365CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. MacCorquodale K, Meehl PE (1948) On a distinction between hypothetical constructs and intervening variables. Psychol Rev 55:95–107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Masur EF (1983) Gestural development, dual-directional signaling, and the transition to words. J Psycholinguist Res 12:93–109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Menzel CR (1999) Unprompted recall and reporting of hidden objects by a chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) after extended delays. J Comp Psychol 113:426–434CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Miklósi Á, Soproni K (2006) A comparative analysis of animals’ understanding of the human pointing gesture. Anim Cogn 9:81–93CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Moore R (2015) Meaning and ostension in great ape gestural communication. Anim Cogn 19:223–231CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Moore R (2017) Gricean communication and cognitive development. Philos Q 267:303–326Google Scholar
  51. Moore C, Corkum V (1994) Social understanding at the end of the first year of life. Dev Rev 14:349–372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Mundy P, Sigman M, Ungerer J, Sherman T (1986) Defining the social deficits of autism: the contribution of non-verbal communication measures. J Child Psychol Psychiatry Allied Discip 27:657–669CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Nisbett RE, Wilson TD (1977) Telling more than we can know: verbal reports on mental processes. Psychol Rev 84:231–259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Pedersen J, Segerdahl P, Fields WM (2009) Why apes point: pointing gestures in spontaneous conversation of language-competent Pan/Homo bonobos. In: Potocki E, Krasinski J (eds) Primatology: theories, methods, and research. Nova, Hauppauge, NYGoogle Scholar
  55. Povinelli DJ, Eddy TJ (1996) What young chimpanzees know about seeing. Monogr Soc Res Child Dev 61(3):i–vi, 1–152CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. Povinelli DJ, Reaux JE, Bierschwale DT, Allain AD, Simon BB (1997) Exploitation of pointing as a referential gesture in young children, but not adolescent chimpanzees. Cogn Dev 12:423–461CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Povinelli DJ, Bierschwale DT, Čech CG (1999) Comprehension of seeing as a referential act in young children but not juvenile chimpanzees. Br J Dev Psychol 17:37–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Racine TP (2012) Getting beyond rich and lean views of joint attention. In: Pika S, Liebal K (eds) Current developments in primate gesture research. John Benjamins, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  59. Racine TP, Carpendale JIM (2007) The role of shared practice in joint attention. Br J Dev Psychol 26:3–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Rheingold HL, Hay DF, West MJ (1976) Sharing in the second year of life. Child Dev 47:1148–1158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Roberts AI, Vick S-J, Roberts SGB, Menzel CR (2014) Chimpanzees modify intentional gestures to coordinate a search for hidden food. Nat Commun 5:3088CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  62. Savage-Rumbaugh ES, Rumbaugh DM, MacDonald K (1985) Language learning in two species of apes. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 9:653–665CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. Sehon SR (2000) An argument against the causal theory of action explanation. Philos Phenomenol Res 60:67–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Thomas E, Murphy M, Pitt R, Rivers A, Leavens DA (2008) Understanding of visual attention by adult humans (Homo sapiens): a partial replication of Povinelli, Bierschwale, and Čech (1999). J Comp Psychol 122:428–436CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  65. Tomasello M (1995) Joint attention as social cognition. In: Moore C, Dunham P (eds) Joint attention: its origins and role in development. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, NJGoogle Scholar
  66. Tomasello M, Call J, Gluckman A (1997) Comprehension of novel communicative signs by apes and human children. Child Dev 68:1067–1080CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  67. Tomasello M, Carpenter M, Liszkowski U (2007) A new look at infant pointing. Child Dev 78:705–722CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  68. van der Goot MH, Tomasello M, Liszkowski U (2014) Differences in the nonverbal requests of Great Apes and human infants. Child Dev 85:444–455CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  69. Veà JJ, Sabater-Pi J (1998) Spontaneous pointing behaviour in the wild pygmy chimpanzee (Pan paniscus). Folia Primatol 69:289–290CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  70. Woodruff G, Premack D (1979) Intentional communication in the chimpanzee: the development of deception. Cognition 7:333–362CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of SussexFalmerUK

Personalised recommendations