Abstract # 34:

Scheduled for Saturday, September 19, 2009 03:35 PM-03:55 PM: Session 4 (Mission Bay Ballroom AB) Symposium


K. A. Bard
University of Portsmouth, Centre for the Study of Emotion, Department of Psychology, Portsmouth PO1 2DY, United Kingdom

Joint attention (JA), the quintessential component of the 9-month social-cognitive revolution, is conceptualized as coordinated joint engagement. JA is a prerequisite skill in symbolic and intentional communication (and imitative learning, social referencing, inter alia), and thus, JA is expected to occur in great apes. Emotion is an essential element of engagement, therefore, I predict emotion is critical to JA in young chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). By taking an integrated developmental comparative approach, I find that JA commonly occurs, without specific training, in 8-, 9-, and 10-mo nursery-reared chimpanzees [N=35] during standardized cognitive testing. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis was used to predict JA success in 9-mo chimpanzees. Emotion (happiness, fearfulness) accounted for a significant [F(2,28)=7.75, p<0.002] and large [36%] percentage of variance in JA success. Sociability (to the examiner, to the favourite caregiver) contributed a unique 15% improvement in prediction [F(2,26)=3.96, p<0.03]. Coordinated joint engagement (JA) develops at the same age in chimpanzee infants, as in human infants. Emotional engagement is an essential and important contributor to coordinated joint engagement in young chimpanzees, as it is in humans. This study supports the conclusion that the social cognition of chimpanzees has a developmental history, as it does in humans. Psychology must embrace emotion as a core variable in the development of social cognition. Funding by NIH RR-00165, RR-03591, RR-06158, and European Commission FP6-IST-045169.