Demonstration of Shared Intentionality by Nigerian Infants: A Study of Some Mother–Infant Dyads

  • EF Akinsola
Keywords: Shared Intentionality, Nigerian Infants, Mother-Infant Dyads


Shared Intentionality was defined as a collaborative interaction in which the participants share psychological states with one another (Tomasello & Carpenter, 2007). In this study an attempt was made to establish the developmental nature of shared intentionality in some Nigerian infants.
Twenty One mothers of the (Yoruba) ethnic group, and their infants participated in the study. The ages of the infants ranged between 1 month and 18 months. The mother-infant pairs were observed in social interactions while interactional instructions were given both in the Yoruba language (for mothers) and in the English language (for video recording), to elicit the desired behavior from the infants.
Analysis of the infants’ behavior showed a progressive transformational development of intentional behavior from a relatively less active state of fixated looking to more active state of gaze following and joint attention, to cooperative communication and vocalization, reciprocal and collaborative activity in form of games (e.g. reciprocal ball throwing), social learning in form of reciprocal smiling and tongue protrusion (imitation), and instructed learning in form of compliance and non-compliance with mother’s request. The frequency of intentional behavior exhibited by the infants increased as age increased. In instructed learning the infants studied demonstrated intentionality more by refusal than by compliance with mothers’ requests. These findings supported thenotion that infants are biologically programmed and socially motivated to develop shared intentionality, and they are socially competent and capable of reciprocating intentions very early in life.

Key Words: Shared Intentionality, Nigerian Infants, Mother-Infant Dyads


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1117-1421