Why engagement? A second person take on social cognition

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


In this chapter I attempt to tease apart the meanings of various terms sometimes confusingly used in understanding the importance of second-person engagements in infant social cognition. Engagement itself may be a continuum rather than a category, may occur in a multiplicity of modes and dimensions rather than a singularity, and may occur with things as well as people. Nonetheless, the difference between second and third-person engagements is crucial for the development of infant social cognition (and possibly for social cognition through the lifespan). I discuss the importance of the second-person by looking at four attentional and intentional engagements in the first year—coy responses to attention, clowning and showing off, anticipatory adjustments to being picked up, and compliance with directives. Such phenomena portray early and fundamentally emotional involvement, requiring more than explanations of ostensive cues, child-directedness, or joint engagement occurring after joint attention.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Handbook of 4E Cognition
EditorsAlbert Newen, Leon De Bruin, Shaun Gallagher
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018


  • engagement
  • second-person
  • infant social cognition
  • emotional involvement
  • being addressed
  • openness to engagement
  • attentional engagements
  • intentional engagements
  • third-person


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