Identification. The missing link between joint attention and imitation

Hobson, Jessica A and Hobson, R Peter (2007) Identification. The missing link between joint attention and imitation. Development and Psychopathology, 19 (2). pp. 411-431. ISSN 0954-5794 Full text available

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In this paper we outline our hypothesis that human intersubjective engagement entails identifying with other people. We tested a prediction derived from this hypothesis that concerned the relation between a component of joint attention and a specific form of imitation. The empirical investigation involved “blind” ratings of videotapes from a recent study in which we tested matched children with and without autism for their propensity to imitate the self-/other-orientated aspects of another person's actions. The results were in keeping with three a priori predictions, as follows: (a) children with autism contrasted with control participants in spending more time looking at the objects acted upon and less time looking at the tester; (b) participants with autism showed fewer “sharing” looks toward the tester, and although they also showed fewer “checking” and “orientating” looks, they were specifically less likely to show any sharing looks; and, critically, (c) within each group, individual differences in sharing looks (only) were associated with imitation of self–other orientation. We suggest that the propensity to adopt the bodily anchored psychological stance of another person is essential to certain forms of joint attention and imitation, and that a weak tendency to identify with others is pivotal for the developmental psychopathology of autism.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Communication (incl. disorders of) > Autism
Department/People: Special Units

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