In this project we investigated the development of gaze following in monolingual and bilingual infants. 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).
To test the hypothesis that bilingual experience would lead to a more pronounced ability to follow another’s gaze, we tested a total of 93 6–9 month-old and 229 12–15 month-old monolingual and bilingual infants (from 11 labs, 8 countries) in a gaze-following paradimg developed by Senju and Csibra (2008). Monolingual and bilingual infants showed similar gaze-following abilities, and both groups showed age-related improvements in speed, accuracy, frequency and duration of fixations.
Unexpectedly, bilinguals tended to make more frequent fixations to onscreen objects, whether or not they were cued by the actor.
Our findings suggest that gaze sensitivity is a fundamental aspect of development that is robust to variation in language exposure.
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Byers-Heinlein, K., Tsui, R. K. Y., van Renswoude, D., Black, A. K., Barr, R., PhD, Brown, A., … Singh, L. (2020). The development of gaze following in monolingual and bilingual infants: A multi-lab study Infancy, Advance online publication. PsyArXiv Preprint