Volume 15, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1572-0373
  • E-ISSN: 1572-0381
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Research of tutoring in parent-infant interaction has shown that tutors – when presenting some action – modify both their verbal and manual performance for the learner (‘motherese’, ‘motionese’). Investigating the sources and effects of the tutors’ action modifications, we suggest an interactional account of ‘motionese’. Using video-data from a semi-experimental study in which parents taught their 8- to 11-month old infants how to nest a set of differently sized cups, we found that the tutors’ action modifications (in particular: high arches) functioned as an orienting device to guide the infant’s visual attention (gaze). Action modification and the recipient’s gaze can be seen to have a reciprocal sequential relationship and to constitute a constant loop of mutual adjustments. Implications are discussed for developmental research and for robotic ‘Social Learning’. We argue that a robot system could use on-line feedback strategies (e.g. gaze) to pro-actively shape a tutor’s action presentation as it emerges.


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