Twelve-month-olds’ understanding of intention transfer through communication

Him CHEUNG, Wen XIAO, Ching Man LAI

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Do infants understand that intention can be transferred through communication? We answered this question by examining 12-month-olds' looking times in a violation-of-expectation paradigm with two human agents. In familiarization, the non-acting agent spoke, clapped her hands, read aloud a book, or remained silent before the acting agent grasped one (the target) of two objects. During test only the non-actor remained, grasping either the target or distractor. The infants looked longer in the distractor than target condition, suggesting violation of expectation, only if the non-actor had spoken or clapped in familiarization. Because the non-actor never had grasped any of the objects in familiarization, the infants' expectation on her behavior could have developed from the understanding that her intention was transferred to the actor, who executed it by grasping the target in familiarization, via speaking and clapping as acts of communication (but not reading aloud and remaining silent). Copyright © 2012 Cheung et al.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere46168
JournalPLoS One
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 24 Sept 2012


Cheung, H., Xiao, W., & Lai, C. M. (2012). Twelve-month-olds’ understanding of intention transfer through communication. PLoS One, 7(9). Retrieved from


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