Attention and the evolution of intentional communication

Pragmatics and Cognition 9 (2):259-277 (2000)
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Intentional communication is perceptually based and about attentional objects. Three attention mechanisms are distinguished: scanning, attention attraction, and attention-focusing. Attention-focusing directs the subject towards attentional objects. Attention-focusing is goal-governed (controlled by stimulus) or goal-intended (under the control of the subject). Attentional objects are perceptually categorised functional entities that emerge in the interaction between subjects and environment. Joint attention allows for focusing on the same attentional object simultaneously (mutual object-focused attention), provided that the subjects have focused on each other beforehand (subject-subject attention). It results in intentional communication if the subjects attend to each other as subjects (i) capable of attending, and (ii) attending in a goal-intended way. Intentional communication is fundamentally imperative and adapted to action


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Ingar Brinck
Lund University