Paola Perucchini Fabrizio Plescia

Communicative intentions and competence levels in infants' pointing production

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This paper reports the results from two studies analyzing the effects of different level of competence on infant production of imperative and declarative pointing. In the first study, the parents of 68 infants (40 girls, 28 boys) aged 7-16 months, completed a questionnaire (QPOINT; Perucchini and Camaioni, 1999) which evaluates the child's capacity to produce imperative/ declarative pointing in an everyday context. Infants were divided in two groups on the basis of the time passed between the emergence of pointing and the QPOINT compilation. In the second study, the parents of 28 infants completed the QPOINT questionnaire two times, when infants were 12 and 14 months old. Results show that when children started to use the pointing gesture, they pointed mostly with imperative intention. Children who were more capable to point, produced imperative as well as declarative pointing. Moreover, with age declarative pointing increased more than imperative pointing. These results confirm the decalage between imperative and declarative pointing and support the hypothesis that the two types of pointing imply different socio-cognitive abilities (representation of others as casual agents in imperative pointing vs. intentional subjects in declarative pointing).


  • Pointing production
  • declarative and imperative intention
  • longitudinal study
  • infancy
  • maternal report questionnaire


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