Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 719
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Billeci, L Narzisi, A Campatelli, G Crifaci, G Calderoni, S Gagliano, A Calzone, C Colombi, C Pioggia, G Muratori, F Raso, Rossella Ruta, Liliana Rossi, Ilaria Ballarani, Agnese Fulceri, Francesca Darini, Alessandra Maroscia, Emilia Lattarulo, Caterina Tortorella, Gaetano Siracusano, Rosamaria and Comminiello, Valentina 2016. Disentangling the initiation from the response in joint attention: an eye-tracking study in toddlers with autism spectrum disorders. Translational Psychiatry, Vol. 6, Issue. 5, p. e808.

    Bzdok, Danilo Hartwigsen, Gesa Reid, Andrew Laird, Angela R. Fox, Peter T. and Eickhoff, Simon B. 2016. Left inferior parietal lobe engagement in social cognition and language. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, Vol. 68, p. 319.

    Canteloup, Charlotte Piraux, Emilie Poulin, Nicolas and Meunier, Hélène 2016. Do Tonkean macaques (Macaca tonkeana) perceive what conspecifics do and do not see?. PeerJ, Vol. 4, p. e1693.

    Clegg, Jennifer M. and Legare, Cristine H. 2016. Instrumental and Conventional Interpretations of Behavior Are Associated With Distinct Outcomes in Early Childhood. Child Development, Vol. 87, Issue. 2, p. 527.

    Congiu, Sara Fadda, Roberta Doneddu, Giuseppe and Striano, Tricia 2016. Impaired representational gaze following in children with autism spectrum disorder. Research in Developmental Disabilities, Vol. 57, p. 11.

    Contaldo, Annarita Colombi, Costanza Narzisi, Antonio and Muratori, Filippo 2016. The Social Effect of “Being Imitated” in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Frontiers in Psychology, Vol. 7,

    Corti, Kevin and Gillespie, Alex 2016. Co-constructing intersubjectivity with artificial conversational agents: People are more likely to initiate repairs of misunderstandings with agents represented as human. Computers in Human Behavior, Vol. 58, p. 431.

    de Barbaro, Kaya Johnson, Christine M. Forster, Deborah and Deák, Gedeon O. 2016. Sensorimotor Decoupling Contributes to Triadic Attention: A Longitudinal Investigation of Mother-Infant-Object Interactions. Child Development, Vol. 87, Issue. 2, p. 494.

    de la Osa, Nuria Granero, Roser Domenech, Josep Maria Shamay-Tsoory, Simone and Ezpeleta, Lourdes 2016. Cognitive and affective components of Theory of Mind in preschoolers with oppositional defiance disorder: Clinical evidence. Psychiatry Research, Vol. 241, p. 128.

    Delafield-Butt, Jonathan T. and Adie, Jillian 2016. The Embodied Narrative Nature of Learning: Nurture in School. Mind, Brain, and Education, Vol. 10, Issue. 2, p. 117.

    Dick, Frederic Krishnan, Saloni Leech, Robert and Curtin, Suzanne 2016. Neurobiology of Language.

    Durkin, Kelley and Shafto, Patrick 2016. Epistemic Trust and Education: Effects of Informant Reliability on Student Learning of Decimal Concepts. Child Development, Vol. 87, Issue. 1, p. 154.

    Gauvain, M and Richert, R 2016. Encyclopedia of Mental Health.

    Goldvicht-Bacon, Efrat and Diesendruck, Gil 2016. Children’s capacity to use cultural focal points in coordination problems. Cognition, Vol. 149, p. 95.

    Gustafsson, Erik Brisson, Julie Mailloux, Dominique Mainville, Marc Beaulieu, Christelle and Sirois, Sylvain 2016. Do Infants Recognize Engagement in Social Interactions? The Case of Face-to-Face Conversation. Infancy, p. n/a.

    Harris, Kathleen I. and Sholtis, Stephanie D. 2016. Companion Angels on a Leash: Welcoming Service Dogs Into Classroom Communities for Children With Autism. Childhood Education, Vol. 92, Issue. 4, p. 263.

    He, Jie Jin, Xinyi Li, Zhuyun Zheng, Lei Sun, Zhongqiang Zhang, Meng and Shen, Mowei 2016. Infants' Understanding of Information Transmission in the Context of Communication Involving Multiple Agents. Infancy, Vol. 21, Issue. 2, p. 228.

    Hennefield, Laura and Markson, Lori 2016. If you don’t want it, neither do I: Social influences on children’s choices. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, Vol. 141, p. 283.

    Hensel, Witold M. 2016. Why apply causal reference to intentional concepts? A polemic with Michael and MacLeod. New Ideas in Psychology, Vol. 40, p. 65.

    Hunt, Kevin D. 2016. Why are there apes? Evidence for the co-evolution of ape and monkey ecomorphology. Journal of Anatomy, Vol. 228, Issue. 4, p. 630.


Understanding and sharing intentions: The origins of cultural cognition

  • Michael Tomasello (a1), Malinda Carpenter (a1), Josep Call (a1), Tanya Behne (a1) and Henrike Moll (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 October 2005

We propose that the crucial difference between human cognition and that of other species is the ability to participate with others in collaborative activities with shared goals and intentions: shared intentionality. Participation in such activities requires not only especially powerful forms of intention reading and cultural learning, but also a unique motivation to share psychological states with others and unique forms of cognitive representation for doing so. The result of participating in these activities is species-unique forms of cultural cognition and evolution, enabling everything from the creation and use of linguistic symbols to the construction of social norms and individual beliefs to the establishment of social institutions. In support of this proposal we argue and present evidence that great apes (and some children with autism) understand the basics of intentional action, but they still do not participate in activities involving joint intentions and attention (shared intentionality). Human children's skills of shared intentionality develop gradually during the first 14 months of life as two ontogenetic pathways intertwine: (1) the general ape line of understanding others as animate, goal-directed, and intentional agents; and (2) a species-unique motivation to share emotions, experience, and activities with other persons. The developmental outcome is children's ability to construct dialogic cognitive representations, which enable them to participate in earnest in the collectivity that is human cognition.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • ISSN: 0140-525X
  • EISSN: 1469-1825
  • URL: /core/journals/behavioral-and-brain-sciences
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *