Joint Shared Attention

From Generative Anthropology

Joint shared attention is the ability to attend to something jointly with others, and for each to be aware of the other's attention to that thing.

Origin and Characteristics

The concept of joint shared attention draws upon the work of psychologist and linguist Michael Tomasello on the signifying capacities of apes and humans. Tomasello’s finding that apes, unlike even very small children, do not point (in order to show something to another) is taken to offer confirmation of Eric Gans’s “originary hypothesis,” which strongly suggests that the first sign, differentiating humans from other advanced hominids, was a gesture "pointing" towards a central object. Tomasello uses the concept of “joint attention” to designate this specifically human capacity.