On being the object of attention: implications for self–other consciousness

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Joint attention to an external object at the end of the first year is typically believed to herald the infant's discovery of other people's attention. I will argue that mutual attention in the first months of life already involves an awareness of the directedness of attention. The self is experienced as the first object of this directedness followed by gradually more distal 'objects'. This view explains early infant affective self-consciousness within mutual attention as emotionally meaningful, rather than as bearing only a spurious similarity to that in the second and third years of life. Such engagements precede and must inform, rather than derive from, conceptual representations of self and other, and can be better described as self-other conscious affects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-402
Number of pages6
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2003


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