An early developmental hallmark in human social cognition is the ability to understand pointing as a form of referential communication. Referential pointing in humans is a triadic communicative transaction involving the management of joint attention between an informant, a receiver, and a subject of interest. Pointing is not only adaptive as a form of communication but it can also inform a receiver and an informant about each other’s visual perception, social awareness, and knowledge state. In human infants, the ability to understand the referring function of the pointing cue develops over the first 2 years of life (reviewed in Pfandler et al. 2013). Since the early 1990s, there has been an “explosion” of studies in nonhuman animals on how they respond to pointing cues, whether they produce pointing cues, and if they appreciate a pointing cues’ referring function (see summaries in Miklosi and Soproni 2006, Pack and Herman 2006; Lyn 2010; Kaminski and Nitzschner 2013;...
- Herman, L. M., Pack, A. A., & Morrel-Samuels, P. (1993). Conceptual and representational abilities in bottlenosed dolphins. In H. R. Roitblat, L. M. Herman, & P. Nachtigall (Eds.), Language and communication: Comparative Perspectives. (pp. 403–442). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Tomasello, M. (1995). Joint attention as social cognition. In C. Moore & P. J. Dunham (Eds.), Joint attention: Its origin and role in development (pp. 103–130). Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar