Moving others matters

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Being moved by others is central to social and cognitive development. This paper explores the other side of the phenomenon: that of wanting to move others. Within philosophy and psychotherapy several different terms have been used to refer to the importance of having an impact on others - being recognised, acknowledged, affirmed, etc. Implied in this process of moving another person to a reaction to oneself is being known by them in some way, allowing interpersonal openness and dialogue. The impact of failing to move others is evident in everyday life as well as in psychological research. Keywords: infancy; engagement; moving others; mutuality; contingency The central part of this paper traces the development of the desire and ability to move others in increasingly complex ways during the first year of human infancy. Starting from expectations of temporally and affectively contingent reactions to their actions, human infants become increasingly able to perform actions which are aimed directly at eliciting specific adult reactions. Clowning, showing-off and teasing in the second half of the first year reveal infants’ awareness of the links between their actions and others’ responses and a clear desire to repeatedly obtain some of these reactions. The paper ends by exploring the mutuality between being moved by others and wanting to move them: a mutuality which is developmentally central and maintains the moral bases of social relations.


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