Movement and emotion in joint attention

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Page: 41-54

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Gallagher, Shaun
joint; emotion; attention; movement; Arts and Humanities; Law
book description
When we see another person look at something, or in a certain direction, we automatically tend to follow their gaze to the object or the location. This may be the initiation of an instance of joint attention, which is a phenomenon that developmentally starts to emerge at around 9 months of age. Joint attention has tremendous importance for social interaction and for our ability to generate meaning through such interaction. I'll refer to this co-constitution of meaning as participatory sense-making. Not only does the direction of another person's gaze indicate current interest in an object, but their facial expression, which may reflect specific emotional content, will also have an effect on the way I may come to feel about that object, and it may lead to subsequent action. The way this develops into an instance of joint attention, which involves me and the other person being aware that we are attending to the same object, requires a certain coordination between the two of us. In this paper I want to explore the nature of that coordination. I will suggest that rather than being a case of coordination mental of psychological states, joint attention, and the participatory sense-making that issues from it, involves primarily a coordination of movement and emotion.