Journal Article

The development of gaze following in monolingual and bilingual infants: A multi-lab study


Determining the meanings of words requires language learners to attend to what other people say. However, it behooves a young language learner to simultaneously attend to what other people attend to, for example, by following the direction of their eye gaze. Sensitivity to cues such as eye gaze might be particularly important for bilingual infants, as they encounter less consistency between words and objects than monolinguals, and do not always have access to the same word learning heuristics (e.g., mutual exclusivity). In a pre-registered study, we tested the hypothesis that bilingual experience would lead to a more pronounced ability to follow another’s gaze. We used the gaze-following paradigm developed by Senju and Csibra (2008) to test a total of 93 6–9 month-old and 229 12–15 month-old monolingual and bilingual infants, in 11 labs located in 8 countries. Monolingual and bilingual infants showed similar gaze-following abilities, and both groups showed age-related improvements in speed, accuracy, frequency and duration of fixations to congruent objects. Unexpectedly, bilinguals tended to make more frequent fixations to onscreen objects, whether or not they were cued by the actor. These results suggest that gaze sensitivity is a fundamental aspect of development that is robust to variation in language exposure.

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Byers-Heinlein, Krista
Barr, Rachel
Black, Alexis K.
Brown, Anna
Durrant, Samantha
Gampe, Anja
Gonzalez-Gomez, Nayeli
Hay, Jessica F.
Hernik, MikoĊ‚aj
Jartó, Marianna
Kovács, Ágnes Melinda
Laoun-Rubenstein, Alexandra
Lew-Williams, Casey
Liszkowski, Ulf
Liu, Liquan
Noble, Claire
Potter, Christine E.
Rocha-Hidalgo, Joscelin
Sebastian-Galles, Nuria
Soderstrom, Melanie
Ka-Ying Tsui, Rachel
van Renswoude, Daan
Visser, Ingmar
Waddell, Connor
Wermelinger, Stephanie
Singh, Leher

Oxford Brookes departments

Department of Psychology, Health and Professional Development


Year: 2020

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This RADAR resource is the Accepted Manuscript of [preprint] The development of gaze following in monolingual and bilingual infants: A multi-lab study