Infants move from a strictly dyadic sort of attentional phenomena to a triadic behavioral attention at around 9-12 months of age. This opens the world for infants to allow them to consider other people as intentional agents with whom it is possible to interact. This provides a platform for the infants to begin engaging in a relational way as a precursor to conversation including new ways of referencing the world around them and new ways of coordinating attention of the outside intentional agents. Without this development into the capacity for accessing a triadic perspective children would be unable to operate in a joint attention frame, would be unable to read intention, and would not maximize cultural learning – all of which depend on recognizing the other-than-self as self-motivated.
I added this picture because it represents Joint Attention…now, substitute the three adults for an adult and an infant – this represents the ability to focus in a joint attention frame so as to develop a sense of common ground. Stay tuned…more to come.