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Trevarthen, C. (2005). Action and emotion in development of the human self,
its sociability and cultural intelligence: Why infants have feelings like ours.
In, J. Nadel and D. Muir (eds.) Emotional Development, pp. 61-91
Oxford: Oxford University Press.
ACTION AND EMOTION IN DEVELOPMENT OF CULTURAL INTELLIGENCE:
WHY INFANTS HAVE FEELINGS LIKE OURS
University of Edinburgh
Running Lead: Infants’ sympathy, emotions and cultural learning.
Key Words: Animal motives, prospective motor control, emotional regulation; 'sympathy neurons';
human motives; theory of social emotions; infant self-awareness, intersubjectivity, and
communication; expressive dynamics and 'musicality'; cultural learning and education.
Colwyn Trevarthen, PhD, FRSE
Professor (Emeritus) of Child Psychology and Psychobiology Department of Psychology The
University of Edinburgh
7 George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9JZ, Scotland, U. K.
E-mail: <c.trevarthen @ed.ac.uk>
Home: 'Winton', High Street, Aberlady, East Lothian, EH32 ORA Tel: +44-1875-870 337
Action and emotion in development
of cultural intelligence: why infants
have feelings like ours
Introduction: emotions are innate, and they
regulate agency and social sympathy
A valid psychology of emotions is concerned with motives
Emotions seem the least understood mind function, perhaps because they are part of the cause of
consciousness and remote from rational explanations that reflect experience. This paper assumes
that the activity of emotions is clear in infants, who search for experience with less reflection.
I believe that the prevailing 'models' of emotion lack real life validity because they fail to consider
how emotions are essentially part of the generation of motor activity, for which emotional
evaluations are essential (Schulkin et al., 2003; Frijda, 1986). They treat emotions as protective
reactions, not vital and optimistic causes of experience. This, I judge, is largely a consequence of
reductive assumptions about how behaviours are generated and guided, and the application of the
experimental method to test reactions of passive subjects, or to assess verbal reports of experience.
A more coherent account can be given if emotions are taken to start inside the mind, with
intentions to act in specific ways (Trevarthen, 1993a, b, 1997,2001a, b). Emotions are inseparable
from motives — processes of prospective or ' future-sensitive' vitality that move the body and that
regulate the acting Self as a coherent open dynamic system (Bertalanffy, 1968; Zei Pollermann,
2003). The communication of emotions between intending human Selves, which has driven the
development of more elaborate emotions characteristic of humans, depends on intersubjective
sympathy between individuals, a sympathy active in human brains that detects and identifies with
the prospective control of the movements that prepare for and implement others' intentions
(Blakemore and Decety, 2001; Decety and Chaminade, 2003).
At the end of his famous book on "The Expressions of Emotions in Man and Animals", Charles
Darwin (1872/1998) concluded that a mother's emotions guide the child by
62 | ACTION AND EMOTION IN DEVELOPMENT OF CULTURAL INTELLIGENCE
assisting purposes toward good effects:
"They serve as the first means of communication between the mother and her infant;
she smiles approval, and thus encourages her child on the right path, or frowns
I take this to mean Darwin thought that human emotions evolved to transmit and receive the 'good
sense' of an active and intelligent life in the community.
I find that cognitive neuroscience theories of emotion do not give sufficient attention to what
purposeful communal intelligence entails. A first step is to relate emotions and their sympathetic
communication to the production and regulation of movements - that is, to the motives that
coordinate movements. Then we have to explain how motives may be communicated.
How persons communicate the values of motives to make common sense.
A biological account that links emotions to the prospective control of motor activity must address
the intrinsic rhythms and modulations of energy in body movement (Trevarthen, 1999). It will also
relate emotions to the autonomic regulations of energy and metabolism in body state (MacLean,
1990; Porges, 2003), and to the output of neural systems that formulate anticipations of experience,
in acting, in thinking, and in communication; neural systems that purposefully 'take up' information
for perception of expected goals.
Emotions are the expectant internal evaluators that anticipate the realisation of our projects,
experiences and relationships in society. They guide us into ways of consciously perceiving the
same 'common sense' world, and knowing how to live in it together. In contrast, our cognitions,
define goal objects 'after the fact'. They retain models and maps of reality based on what we have
experienced, and in that role are 'corrective' and 'retentive'. They cannot, alone, initiate what moves
us to be interested, nor can they balance internal state against what is expected to come from
outgoing action (Damasio, 1999; Freeman, 2000). In the social realm, it is not cognitions that
estimate in advance who are the persons we should trust.
The Emotional Life of Infants.
Observation of a contented and wakeful infant receiving the attentions of an affectionate parent
finds displays of emotion that can only function in engaging the other’s interest and in stimulating
future interpersonal communication. Why does a newborn baby orient expectantly to the face of a
person if not to discover and share expressions of such feelings of 'interest', 'anxiety' and 'joy' that
relate to their contact? Why are games and baby songs enjoyed so much by a 5-month-old, and with
such skilful anticipatory timing? What causes an infant to display rage or sad withdrawal in a
relationship that is not working as expected, and why does a contented infant’s mind sometimes
hide behind a silent mask of inwardness, apparently inventing thoughts? Such questions
VITAL SELF-REGULATION IN THE ACTIVE PURSUIT OF EXPERIENCE | 63
lead us to consider the developmental advantages of emotions that guide the seeking of reflections,
memories and the trans-generational invention of ideas in sympathetic company, in what Peter
Hobson calls the 'cradle of thought' (Hobson, 2002).
Clinical research and the experience of psychotherapists prove how important are the affections of
early attachments, and especially those pleasurable states that support a loving protective
association between a mother and an infant (Stern, 1993,2000; Schore, 1994,2003). Sensitive
parental care is shown to be important for the fostering of a creative and resilient emotional life and
personality. Attachment Theory (Bowlby, 1958) attributes the behaviours of infant and caregiver to
innate biological capacities, and assumes that adaptive development of the infant's emotional
system 'expects' this human environmental support for physical and emotional well-being.
John Bowlby describes the sensitive mother as also supplying her child with a 'secure base' for
exploration. But discovery of meaning is not something the child wants to do on his or her own, by
going away from company. Meaning is made by emotions that may turn to and address others, to
share the fun of discovering and doing. Children’s emotions are adapted to draw ('educate') them
into the life of others, and thence into a
cultural community. They establish, evaluate and reinforce the companionships, by which the
knowledge and tasks of the community are built and learned in collaborative social activity
(Trevarthen, 2001a, 2004).
Intentions of animals: vital self-regulation in the
active pursuit of experience
Emotions as manners of moving, and of responding
The biology of animal action focuses on how prospective motor images, or the impulses of agency
and embodied commitment, are generated and regulated by an animal’s brain in fluid continuity,
rather than on how environmental information is processed and stored, chunk-by-chunk or bit-by-
bit. It views the primary function of the mind as the production of action (Sperry, 1952).
Consciousness, as Donald (2001) has pointed out, is not made up of momentary cognitive responses
to unitary forms or events. It has purposeful executive coherence. It seeks discovery in motivated
sequences of action (Lashley, 1951).
Emotions are part of this animal vitality - of actions to maintain bodily well-being and of conscious
agency in experiencing the world, including the social world of other agents (MacLean, 1990).
Expressive movements manifest how healthy, strong and alert animal bodies are, what events are
moving them, and how movements are being planned to achieve particular ends. Emotions evaluate
the experience of an integrated conscious subject finding things: navigating through places for
exploration and adventure, choosing objects to use them, noting which may offer benefit or bring
danger (Panksepp, 1998b, 2000b; Porges, 2003). Actions and emotions determine what the subject
will remember and what will be ignored or forgotten (Tulving, 2002; Trevarthen, 2003b).
64 | ACTION AND EMOTION IN DEVELOPMENT OF CULTURAL INTELLIGENCE
When an animal moves, a 'coherent dynamic, body-related self-state' must be adjusted to present
and future conditions in such a way that the energy to be expended or assimilated is accounted for
(Panksepp, 1998a; Damasio, 1999). .Every animal displays emotion in the way it moves - its power,
rate, and reactions to sensed consequences. Emotions describe the coherence or organisation of the
motor images or plans, and how their energy economy is regulated (Scherer, 1986; Zei Pollermann,
2003). The ‘manner’ of coordination and regulation of movement and of its physiological cost is
emotion, and social communication depends on detection of emotions in movement. There is an
evolutionary progression to more effective ways of collaborating socially by movements that
regulate approaches and contacts between individuals (Porges, 2003).
Play communicates motives of discovery,
contest, joy and affiliation.
Many animals play, apparently ‘wasting’ energy (Bekoff and Byers, 1998). Juvenile birds and
mammals of species that grow up in complex societies where adaptive skills develop slowly, play
long and hard. They move expressively, with stereotyped motor posturing or exaggerated kinds of
locomoting, with movements of ‘sensory accessory motor organs’ (ears, face and jaws), or of other
body appendages, such as tails, that show quick shifts of interest and pleasure, and by vocal calls
that signal vigorous delight or mock startle, aggression and flight (Scherer, 1986). Play regulates the
seeking of peaceful or intimate and affectionate collaboration with social partners, fighting others
for advantage, avoiding threats and attack, chasing prey, fleeing predators, freezing movement to
escape detection or steady attention. Meta-communicative emotional signals also regulate
antagonistic encounters between rival individuals or groups, as they do the interspecies attack and
flight behaviours of many kinds of predator and prey. They enable sharing of feelings about the
environment and what it offers (Marier, et al., 1992; Merker, 2000).
Playful affectionate and aesthetic feelings of humans appear to have evolved by elaboration of both
‘experience seeking’ and ‘attachment regulating’ motives and emotions of sub-cultural but highly
sociable species (Dissanayake, 2000; Panksepp, 2000b; Panksepp and Burgdorf, 2003; Panksepp,
The intrinsic timing of animal movement and of emotions.
As the animal body moves with agency and prospective control, every act is motivated with
intrinsic rhythm and intensity in the ‘vitality’ (Stern, 1993,1999) or 'sentie forms' (Clynes, 1980) of
emotions. To comprehend this control we need a theory of 'time in the mind' (Poppel, 1994; Poppel
and Wittmann, 1999). The timing of animal actions is intrinsic - it depends on the rate and intensity
of physical and chemical processes passing through the neural assemblies of the brain.
I believe it makes sense to classify emotions initially in terms of the time course of the intended
action that they serve (Poppel and Wittmann, 1999; Trevarthen, 1999).
VITAL SELF-REGULATION IN THE ACTIVE PURSUIT OF EXPERIENCE | 65
This conclusion accords well with phenomenological conceptions of mental processes (Husserl,
1964; Merleau Ponty, 1962; Michotte, 1962), and with the theory of open selfregulating dynamic
systems (Bertalanffy, 1968). Movements are formulated in the following broad time bands:
• The fastest changes of emotion, and momentary shifts of thought, correspond with units in
skeleto-muscular action and orientations of special-sense awareness measuring a few hundred
milliseconds - possibly guided by senses, but faster than conscious monitoring.
• Emotions that communicate distinct states of interest and purpose in body movements, showing
differing qualities of pleasure, anxiety, etc., apply their evaluations in the period of the
continuously monitored conscious and intentional time, the ‘psychological present’. over 2-6
• ‘Narrative’ cycles of emotional fluctuation, driven more ‘viscerally’ by spontaneous cycles of
autonomic arousal, and expectations of vitality and fatigue lead to an experience of a new
adventure that starts, then gains in confidence and vigour, reaches a climax, and relaxes back to
a relative quiet. Narrative cycles last 30 seconds to a minute or two.
With experience and knowledge, this third 'emotional narrative' range sets the time for 'executive
planning' of complex sequences and variations of movement, and for 'problem solving' in thought
Executive planning acquires greatly extended scope in memory (Tulving, 2002; Trevarthen, 2003b).
Long-term recollections require categorisation of experiences and are aided in their retention, as in
their communication, by symbolic representations, and symbols draw their power of reference and
function most meaningfully in stories (Turner, 1996). These are principles that apply in some
degree, at least at a presymbolic level, to all active and intelligent creatures, not just to humans, but
humans can give a verbal account of them, perform them as drama or music, and write them as texts
or musical scores.
The approach that identifies regularities and hierarchies in the temporal change of affective states
of animals, from 'instant' emotional reactions to lasting 'moods' and 'roles' or 'characters' is strongly
supported by analysis of patterns of communication in sound. Animal vocalisations engage
individuals in collaborative action and awareness, linking their self-regulatory states (Scherer, 1986;
Zei Pollermann, 2003). Communication of emotions by sound production to serve the needs of a
social community has led to the evolution of human emotive musicality (Merker, 2000; Krumhansl,
2000; Panksepp and Bernatzky, 2002).
Emotional autonomies: maintaining the energy economy of animal movement inside the
Brains carry anatomical ‘somatotopic’ maps of the whole configuration of the body, separately
laying out neural systems for the sensory surface and special receptors, for
66 | ACTION AND EMOTION IN DEVELOPMENT OF CULTURAL INTELLIGENCE
the muscles and skeletal frame, and for the internal organs (Trevarthen, 1985). A common chemical
code of ‘neurospcificity determines the equivalence and coherent functioning of the different parts
in the embryo when the nerve circuits are first laid down (Sperry, 1963). Moving the body by
coordinated muscle action requires an anticipatory spatio- temporal configuration of neural activity
or ‘motor image’ (Jeannerod, 1994). Motor images in the CNS are accompanied or preceded by
autonomic activity — changes in heart activity and respiration, for example. An animal moves with
different levels of excitement or ‘arousal’, within a changing estimation of the physiological cost or
benefit of moving. This leads to a fundamental operational distinction between energy expending
and energy conserving actions (Figure 3.1).
Adventurous actions explore and discover; they seek information or take hold of objects and use
them. They may make advances to enter into the action and awareness of other subjects. All cost
metabolic energy, the amount depending on the power and duration of activity, on what mass of
muscles is active and for how long. Hess (1954) called these ergotropic activities.
Other actions, which Hess labelled trophotropic. or nurture seeking, take advantage of comfortable
and 'healthy' situations - warmth, sleep, fresh air to breathe, pure food and water. These correspond,
respectively, to the contrasting regulatory activities of the sympathetic and parasympathetic
components of the autonomic nervous system (Berntson, et al., 2003). Trophotropic actions also
desire intimate affectionate contact with other individuals to gain energy and restore vital functions
with their aid (Schore, 2003).
Fig 3.1 A map of the 'Field of Emotions', representing how the active agency of the
subject is balanced against self-protecting and restorative states, and how individual
subjective behaviours are transformed into collaborative agency by sympathetic motives
THE EMOTIONAL BRAIN AND ITS TOOLS FOR COMMUNICATION | 67
The prospective estimation and control of that energy cost (the ‘ergic/trophic’ equilibrium) is
expressed as emotions, and this is one dimension on which emotions may be plotted. The other
dimension of emotions regulates the balance between ‘subjective’ or self-related action toward
objects in the world taken as non-animate, and ‘intersubjective’ communication with other sentient
animate beings. The collective action of animals in societies requires expression in both dimensions
(Figure 1), and this requirement has driven the evolution of emotions into the intricate aesthetic and
moral forms that humans experience and show from early childhood. We experience cycles of
energy in moving and the emotive qualities of movement when we hear music (Trevarthen, 1999).
The emotional brain and its tools for communication
The neural regulation of reciprocal sympathy in actions.
Motor images' in the brain may be inferred, on the outside, from biomechanical analysis of the
forces in movements (Bernstein, 1967). Outbursts of neuronal activity that precede movement and
perception, inside the brain, may be detected by electrophysiological recording, or neuro-imaging.
The form and dynamics of 'motives' (Trevarthen, 1997), 'motor images' (Jeannerod, 1994), or
psychomotor 'tau' functions (Lee, 1998) can also be ’read' by another voluntary agent directly, by
sympathetic neural response to messages conveyed in movements. Human observers, including
infants, detect the effort or rhythmic grace of another person moving, sensing their comfort or pain,
and any sensory modality may serve this detection (Trevarthen, 1986a).
When animals interact socially, their emotions are picked up and elaborated or 'negotiated' in the
inter-subjective space between them (Aitken and Trevarthen, 1997). Intersubjective volition
requires representations of other subjects as equivalent in their motives and emotions to the self,
and at the same time awareness that those others are separate from the self is preserved (Decety and
Somerville, 2003). The recently discovered 'mirror neurons' (Rizzolatti et al., 2001), better
conceived as 'sympathy neurons', have opened the way to a radical re-conception of the social brain
as an organ for sympathetic engagement between motives in physically separate moving bodies1.
Functional brain imaging is beginning to explore the neural anatomy of those emotions that enable
us to share the quality and vitality of consciousness that comes to life in our separate bodies as they
move and respond to one another. (Blakemore and Decety, 2001; Adolphs, 2003; Decety and
Single brain structures, for example the amygdala or anterior cingulate, however important they
may be as nodal structures in larger circuits, cannot be expected to be dedicated to any one
emotional or social process (Rolls, 1999; Le Doux, 2000; Wicker et al., 2003), and how they
function in the communication of emotion requires consideration of the brainstem centres that
control motor expressions of emotion. Panksepp (1998 and this volume) reviews the evidence for
widespread mechanisms in the vertebrate brain that define the 'foundations of human and animal
68 | ACTION AND EMOTION IN DEVELOPMENT OF CULTURAL INTELLIGENCE
The unique anatomy of human expression.
Humans have the most complex expressive motor structures in the highly communicative primate
group, and the limbic and cortico-bulbar systems of emotional expression in the brain are most
elaborate in humans (MacLean, 1990; Holstege, et al., 1996; Porges, 2003). Facial, vocal and
manual expressions show many features unique to humans. Only human eyes have white scleras
that, in a horizontally oval gap between lids equipped with conspicuous lashes, make displacements
of gaze clearly visible acts of communication (Kobayashi and Kohshima, 2001). The human face
carries new muscles that move the cheeks and mouth to signal changes in pleasure or displeasure
and disgust, acceptance or rejection, curiosity and wonder, determination and animation or
depression, as well as for mediating emotional modulation of vocal sounds.
The human breathing and vocal apparatus is transformed with the evolution of upright standing and
bipedal walking, giving rise to a capacity for driving a sustained flow of air through the vocal cords
at controlled pressure by movements of the stomach, diaphragm and chest, as in speech and song.
Adjustments of larynx, jaws and tongue manipulate the resonance of the sound carrying system in
intricate patterns with infinite productivity, and this has changed the human mind (Lieberman,
1991). The vocal cords mediate an exceptional range of pitch variation, as well as contributing to an
impressive modulation of power and spectral quality in the sound (Scherer, 1986). This is the
source of the moving narratives of emotion carried in the rhythmic phrases of music (Krumhansl,
Lastly, human hands can express every sort of motivation, thought and feeling: giving touch
comfort and security to the self or an other; signalling direction and precise aim of interest,
acceptance or rejection of experience, the confidence and energy of intentions, aggressive or
defensive impulses, and the hesitant or confident planning of sequences of actions that combine
intentions and select different goals (Trevarthen, 1986b; McNeill, 1992; Goldin-Meadow and
McNeill, 1999). Human hand movements also convey learned conventions of affection, greeting,
defiance, appeasement and denial. They make permanent messages in writing and create pictures
and symbolic representations of objects or ideas.
Conversation uses all expressive movements, as well as posturing of the whole body, to convey
intentions and cognitions (Trevarthen, 2003a). In the deaf, hand gestures may take over the
functions of language (Goldin-Meadow and McNeill, 1999). All expressions are active in infants,
coordinated in the cyclic displays of intentions, communicative impulses and emotions (Trevarthen,
1990). Their equivalence in the unschooled expression of motives proves expressions are animated
by a core brain mechanism that modulates actions of the whole body.
Growth of the human emotional brain.
Developments in the meso-limbic cortices of the temporal and frontal lobes in infants and toddlers
expand functions of autonomic self-regulation, emotions in communication,
INFANTS’ SYMPATHETIC EMOTIONS SEEK TO SHARE MEANING | 69
and motives for action (Schore, 1994; Trevarthen, 2001b; Trevarthen and Aitken, 2003). The
neocortical circuits mature in reciprocal, dynamic involvement with the prenatally formed Intrinsic
Motive Formation (IMF), which integrates elaborate subcortical systems with the limbic cortext
(Trevarthen and Aitken, 1994). The basic innate affective neurosystem of the brainstem is
elaborated, not superseded.
An emotional attachment to the mother's voice forms in utero, before a baby’s visual awareness
undergoes rapid development after birth. The brain of the two-month old maps out a both coherent
self and sympathetic equivalence of motive states with others. Cortical face-representing parts
resonate with the experience of the face of another, and, remarkably, prospective regions for facial
articulation of speech and for auditory monitoring of the speech of self or other are already defined,
two years before language (Tzourio-Mazoyer, et al., 2002). Conversation with language grows
within this innate formation of functional neural systems of intersubjectivity (Trevarthen, 2003a).
A mother's compassionate, unthinking engagement with her infant affects the physiology of the
baby and becomes a vital factor assisting the auto-regulation of the rapidly developing infant brain
(Schore, 2003). Left-right asymmetries in the infants' hand gestures and face expressions prove that
the emotional systems of the two sides of the brain are organised in complementary ways to
regulate intimate human engagement when the circuits of the cerebral cortex are rudimentary
(Trevarthen, 1986b, 2001b). Receptive emotional functions controlling the interpersonal context for
exchange of messages, as well as self-nurturant trophotropic states protective of the body that may
be more noradrenergic or seratonergic, are stronger in the right brain, which matures first (Davidson
and Fox, 1982; Schore, 1994,2003; Tucker et al., 2000). More active, outgoing ergotropic
orientation to the environment, which is dopaminergic, is stronger in the later developing left brain.
Young mammals receive essential protection from stress and distress from affectionate parental
care (Hofer, 1990; Schore, 1994; Carter, et al., 1997). If nurturing parental attention is not
forthcoming, a defensive withdrawal may protect the organism from irreparable harm (Porges,
2003), but only for a time. In the end an affectionate attachment relationship is essential for
survival. Human infants are born highly dependent on sympathetic parental responses. Identifying
features of the mother are picked up quickly after birth and other individuals who offer care and
sympathetic company are also soon recognised. Their love is required not only for the physiological
support and protection of the baby, but also for the normal maturation of motives for exploration
and learning, and self-confident negotiation of contacts with the physical and social worlds (Stern,
2000; Porges, 2003; Schore, 2003).
Infants’ sympathetic emotions seek to share meaning
by negotiating interests and affections
Darwin (1872/1998) did not limit his classification of emotions to a short list of discrete ‘basic’
responses (fear, anger, surprise, sadness, joy, disgust and perhaps
70 | ACTION AND EMOTION IN DEVELOPMENT OF CULTURAL INTELLIGENCE
contempt). He included intersubjective or moral qualities of motivation, such as ‘love’,
‘tenderness’, ‘sulkiness’, ‘hatred’, ‘contempt’, ‘guilt’, ‘pride’, ‘shame’ among those he attributed to
the behaviours of animals and children that he called emotional expressions. His other terms denote
different states of the subject's bodily feeling or reaction to objects (‘suffering’, ‘anxiety’, ‘grief’,
‘despair’, ‘joy’, ‘anger’, ‘fear’, ‘disgust’), or states of experiencing and thinking (‘meditation’,
‘determination’, ‘patience’, ‘surprise’).
Modern naturalistic research uses frame-by-frame microanalysis of films and videos and high
fidelity sound recordings to describe dynamic expressions of emotion in infants: when they are
communication and playing games or performing cooperative tasks with their mothers; when they
are confronted with a stranger; when they are exploring the immediate environment; and when they
are seeking, following, reaching for and manipulating or mouthing objects. An object's potential
usefulness or significance must be defined by certain criteria of 'naïve physics' relating to the
properties of things and their motions (Spelke, 1998), and these criteria will depend on the infant's
innate motives for moving (von Hofsten, 2001).
The emotions associated with infants' investigative motives open the way for communication
and collaboration Records of the emotional interactions between an infant and other persons
when the infant is attending to an object show that objects are often ‘animated’ by the adult, to
interest, amuse or tease the baby. The emotions they share arise from the infant subject’s
interest, in objects or events, and in the affections, between the infant and the person who
accepts to play. Rich description of the actions and interactions in infant-adult engagements has
gained us insight into the contribution made by the intelligence and feelings of the infant to the
development of instructive relationships with 'older and wiser' persons (Trevarthen and Aitken,
'Periods of rapid change' and 'difficult transitions' in the
development of human emotions before language.
Before 3 years of age, when most children have mastered language, there are periods when the
body and behaviour of the child transform, bringing in new interests, activities and thinking,
changing the ways communication is used (Fig 3..2). At least six important transformations in
behaviour and the emergence of new ways of learning are recognised in the first 2 years (Heimann
and Plooij, 2003). These have immediate effects on communication with the caregiver, and on
cognitive growth. They elaborate the inherent sociability of emotions and extend their range.
Emotional adjustments affecting relationships precede each new phase of development (Plooij,
2003; Trevarthen and Aitken, 2003) and these correlate with changes in the immune system and
susceptibility of a baby to illness (Plooij, et al., 2003).
The newborn in maternal protection
The neonate has special sensory readiness to detect and recognise the mother’s affectionate
presence and the support, comfort and nourishment she provides. Increased
INFANTS’ SYMPATHETIC EMOTIONS SEEK TO SHARE MEANING | 71
mass and inertia of the body in air, and a new freedom to move the limbs away from the body,
require new muscle strength and new proprio-senses. Developments of eyes and visual brain
facilitate adaptation to the environment of light. Facial, vocal and manual expressions signal
changing interest, pleasure or displeasure, and others' expressions can be imitated. The need for
sleep reduces, increasing the infant’s capacity to seek experience of things outside the body.
After the first month, the baby is often awake for hours at a time, and can orient to, track, or focus
on attractive events. Developments between 4 and 6 weeks also transform the link between an
affectionate mother’s searching for communication and the baby’s interest in emotional exchanges
'just for fun'. This is when the protoconversations of primary intersubjectivity begin.
Exploring surroundings and playing games
At four months, motor control more versatile. The baby looks, reaches and manipulates more
effectively, and often turns attention away from the mother when she seeks to ‘chat’, to explore a
wider space of experience and to manipulate objects. In response, the mother becomes more
animated, assertive and challenging in her efforts to attract communication - more playful. She
attracts her infant in person-person games: rhythmic body play, chanting and by singing baby songs
(Trevarthen and Hubley, 1978; Trevarthen, 1999). Teasing and joking routines grow with the
infant's sense of humour (Sroufe and Waters, 1976; Reddy, 2003). The baby is also attracted to the
image of his or her face in a mirror - a peculiar sort of 'playless' company that is studied
thoughtfully, or used to experiment with expressions and mannerisms.
72 | ACTION AND EMOTION IN DEVELOPMENT OF CULTURAL INTELLIGENCE
Expressions of amusement seem to appreciate that 'mocking' the image of the self can make a 'joke'
Self-awareness and manipulating objects
By 7 or 8 months the baby is intently exploring objects with hands and mouth, and, as person-
person-object games flourish, the social life of the family is enriched by the baby’s delight in
‘showing off’ for company, or for the mirror (Reddy, 2003; Trevarthen and Hubley, 1978;
Trevarthen, 1990). This is the time a baby may become seriously unhappy if approached by a
stranger, indicating how important are the special relationships that have developed in play with
family and other well-known ‘friends’ (Sroufe, 1977; Trevarthen, 1986b, 1990,2002). The baby
may exhibit clever sociability with same age companions, needing no adult help to solicit contact
and communicate (Selby and Bradley, 2003).
A major change at 9 to 10 months marks the transition from the period of games to secondary
intersubjectivity, or cooperative 'person person object awareness' (Trevarthen and Hubley, 1978).
Now the baby is eager to imitate conventional gestures, ways of acting and ways of using objects
(Trevarthen and Aitken, 2003). Memory for the meaning of things is strong and cultural learning of
‘acts of meaning’, expressed in ‘protolanguage’, begins (Halliday, 1975). There are few words, but
the one-year-olds readiness for learning how to communicating by speech and gesture is clearly
evident (Bruner, 1983; Tomasello, 1988; Trevarthen, 1990,1994,2003a, 2004).
Imaginative play with meanings and roles.
In the second year, developments lead the baby from infancy to language and a period of rich
mimetic imagination and fantasy play with family and peers (Nadel and Pezé, 1993; Nadel, Guérini,
et al., 1999). A time of awkward dependency, comparable with the anxious time around 7 months,
has been found in the second half of the second year (Kagan, 1982), and this appears linked to the
start of rapid word learning and the beginning of new developments in the left hemisphere of the
brain (Trevarthen, 2003a).
At each age-related change, intrinsic regulations of ergotropic and trophotropic motives in the brain
release advances in awareness, learning and motor skill (Trevarthen and Aitken, 2003).
Companions of the baby are lead by their sympathetic appreciation of what moves the child, and
what feelings are expressed, to change their behaviour. The child is grows and learns within a
responsive intersubjective environment (Papousek and Papousek, 1987; Fogel, 1993; Stern,
1993,2000; Pantoia, et al., 2001). The effects of weakness or discontinuity in this support prove the
importance of shared dynamic emotions for the advances in the child's abilities and understanding,
and for the growth of a self-confident and confiding personality (Murray and Cooper, 1997; Gratier,
1999; Robb, 1999; Schore, 2003).
INFANTS’ SYMPATHETIC EMOTIONS SEEK TO SHARE MEANING | 73
Fig. 3.3 Newborn infants. (A) A boy in India, 20 minutes old, tracks a red ball moved by
a nurse. (B) Shamini at about 30 minutes after birth: her mother greets her with a smile,
then she imitates 'tongue protrusion1 and 'mouth opening'. (C) Tests of a newborn baby's
initiative in imitation. The band rou nd the infant's chest records heart rate. He imitates
when Emese Nagy (whose face is seen in a mirror) holds up two fingers. Heart rate
recordings show he does so intentionally, and with interest in getting a response for his
effort (Nagy and Molnar, 2003). (Photos A and B by Kevin Bundell)
74 | ACTION AND EMOTION IN DEVELOPMENT OF CULTURAL INTELLIGENCE
Learning how to communicate and who to
Emotions associated with the three different orientations of the body to experiences — to the self,
toward a communicative person, and to inspect a thing outside the body — suggest that the
newborn infant’s mind already has different intentional forms of consciousness appropriate for
these different uses (Trevarthen, 1993), see Fig. 3.9.
The abilities of newborns to imitate many forms of expressive movement (Figure 3) prove
they are ready to engage with other persons' motives and interact in communication
(Kugiumutzakis, 1998). At the time of imitating, or just before, the infant's heart accelerates
significantly, indicating active intention. When the infant is acting to invite or 'provoke' the
adult to imitate, there is an anticipatory heart rate deceleration, indicating a receptive focussing
of attention. A newborn baby seeks communication with intentional preparation of
complementary conscious states — imitating is intentional, and provocating is attentive (Nagy
and Molnâr, 2003).
Any adult who enters into intimate sympathetic relationship with a newborn infant has to depend
first on emotional responses and behaviours that are unconsciously controlled and cannot be
learned. The similarities that appear in the intonation, timing, pitch and rhythms of vocalizations to
very young babies in different cultures are evidence both for the universal needs of the newborn,
and for intuitive parenting motivation to meet these needs (Papousek and Papousek, 1987; Fernald,
1992). The emotional 'codes' in infant and adult and their affective expressions fit one another as
Extensive analyses of the protoconversations with two-month-olds (Figure 4) has proved that
humans are born with a dual representation of self and other that permits them to enter into
immediate relation with one another's emotions in 'dialogic closure' (Brâten, 1988,1992). The
rudiments of such a capacity may be evident immediately after birth, even in a 2-month-premature
infant (Trevarthen, 1993; Malloch, 1999). Voices of parents talking to young infants in different
languages have regular rhythms and patterns of prosody or musical form and quality. The infant is
attending to and giving responses to the ‘attuned’ affectivity of the adult who is strongly moved by
affectionate concern for the infant. The infant is perceived as a person who is expressing interests
and feelings, ‘thinking’ and wanting to ‘talk’ about thoughts (Fig. 3.4).
Feelings of contact, and of loss of contact
The emotions in protoconversations have been tested by introducing interruptions and delays to
well-patterned positive interactions, and watching how the infants respond (Tronick et al., 1978;
Murray and Trevarthen, 1985). The range of sympathetic expressions is illustrated by photographs
of images taken from a Double Television (DTV) intercommunication experiment where a mother
eventually gained her 8 week old daughter’s attention and joined in a lively ‘chat’ with her
(Trevarthen, 1993) (Figure 5). At first the infant was frightened by a loud, high-pitched sound in the
INFANTS’ SYMPATHETIC EMOTIONS SEEK TO SHARE MEANING | 75
Fig. 3.4 Infants enjoying 'protoconversations1. (A) Laura, 3 months old, at home in Scotland is
attentive to her mother's talking. Her 3-year-old sister wants to join in, and father watches proudly
from the side. At 6 weeks, in the University of Edinburgh Laura smiles and coos at her mother,
whose reactions can be seen in a mirror. (Photos by Penelope and John Hubley and
ColwynTrevarthen) (B) Hande, 11 weeks old, is Turkish, photographed in Holland with her father.
She watches her father's face, smiles, moves hand, mouth and tongue with a serious face as if
talking, and looks away while she 'thinks'. (Photos from a video by Saskia van Rees of the "Body
Language Foundation", www.stichtinglichaamstaal.nl).
loudspeaker carrying the mother’s voice, and her pout evoked an instantaneous horror expression
from the mother who said, “Oh! I do not want to see a pouty face.” They then made eye contact,
and this triggered a big smile from the mother and initiated a well-paced exchange. After one and a
half minutes the baby was happy. At this point, one minute of the mother’s most joyful chat was
replayed to the baby. This unresponsive and noncontingent behaviour made the infant puzzled, and,
within 30 seconds, caused her to withdraw and make gestures, vocalisations and face expressions of
‘Still Face’ and ‘DTV Replay’ tests prove that two-month-olds have expectancies for sensitive
reciprocal engagement of affectionate and expressive states, and a need to coordinate cycles of
interest and pleasure with the Other (Murray and Trevarthen, 1985; Nadel, Carchon, et al., 1999).
That the baby is expecting shared timing and a supportive
76 | ACTION AND EMOTION IN DEVELOPMENT OF CULTURAL INTELLIGENCE
Fig 3.5 Photos from an experiment with communication between a mother and an 8-week-
old girl by Double Television. They coordinate their expressions sympathetically in 'live'
communication, but the infant shows distress when the contingency of the mother's behaviour
is lost in 'replay1. See text.
quality of response from the adult is proved by expressions of disappointment or frustration when
Vitality affects and narratives of adventure: 'communicative
musicality' and the mind time of emotions.
Play with infants 3 or 4 months old (Figure 6) has timing and expressive modulations that invite
description in terms used for the arts of music or dance (Stern, 1993,
INFANTS’ SYMPATHETIC EMOTIONS SEEK TO SHARE MEANING | 77
Fig. 3.6 Infants gain new interests. Scottish subjects photographed in the University of
Edinburgh. (A) Leanne, at 4 months, is explores the room, and her mother asks, "What
do you see?" She tries to grasp a ping-pong ball on a thread, presented by her mother.
(B) Four-month-old Leanne enjoys a singing, hand-bouncing game with her mother,
and, 5 months waits for the surprise ending (a tickle under her arm) of the baby song,
"Round and round the garden, like a teddy bear", which she knows well. (C) Infants
over 6 months old enjoy chasing and handling objects, and parents offer games and
toys. Notice how 'expectant' their mouths are (Photos by Colwyn Trevarthen)
1999, 2000). Stern describes the ‘relational’ emotions that sustain this play as ‘vitality affects’, and
he emphasises the 'affect attunement' of the game. Beebe and colleagues have made statistical
analyses of the Coordinated Interpersonal Timing in mother-infant communication, applying
techniques of ‘conversational analysis ‘ to show the synchronisations, pauses and turn-taking of
natural interactions similar to those between adults. The dynamic quality of interaction between a
mother and a young baby can be predictive of the emotional attachment relationship between them
many months later (Jaffe, et al., 2001).
Musical acoustic techniques applied to protoconversations show how a mother speaking to her
infant produces musically organised utterances with a regular beat, phrasing and systematic
development of excitement in longer 'narrative' cycles, and the
78 | ACTION AND EMOTION IN DEVELOPMENT OF CULTURAL INTELLIGENCE
infant may respond in a precisely coordinated manner (Malloch, 1999). Acoustic analysis also
shows how a depressed mother fails to give communication that has the rhythmic expressive
features of ‘musicality’ (Robb, 1999), and the method has been used to demonstrate effects on the
emotional presence of a mother who has had to emigrate from her home country to a foreign land,
and lost the feeling of ‘belonging’ (Gratier, 1999). A mother's loneliness, linked to a felling of loss
of support from her own mother, makes it difficult for her to respond sensitively and happily to her
baby’s efforts to communicate.
The theory of Communicative Musicality (Malloch, 1999) proposes that basic expressive forms and
preferences for particular patterns of expressive movement and vocal sound can be described by
analysis in terms of poetic, musical, gestural and dramatic expression. The compelling ways shared
creations in the temporal arts; of poetry, music, dance or theatre, are responded to emotionally and
remembered proves the relationship of motives for moving in rhythmic expressive ways to the
development of communal understanding by the ‘thinking’, story-telling mind (Turner, 1996;
Trevarthen, 1999; Dissanayake, 2000: Krumhansl, 2000).
Relational emotions, between persons, including pride, jealousy, shame, resentment, rage, and the
lasting evaluations and empathy of admiration, love, hate, contempt that we can develop in regard
to particular individuals — have their foundations in dynamic reactions of even young infants to the
feel of 'being present' with another (Stern, 1993, 2000; Brâten, 1998). They contribute to the
building of relationships of affectionate attachment, trust and companionship, and to defence
against abuse, mistrust and disregard, and they appear to be fundamental to human consciousness of
meaning (See Figures 7 and 8).
Sociability beyond parental care.
Research has focused on emotions in infant-adult dyads. Nevertheless, there is evidence that infants
can communicate with peers. Infants and toddlers join in constructive emotional exchanges in
groups (Nadel and Pezé, 1993; Nash and Hay, 2003; Selby and Bradley, 2003
Research by Fiamenghi (Fiamenghi, 1997; Trevarthen et al, 1999) demonstrated that pairs of
infants 5 to 9 months old, seated facing each other in pushchairs outside view of their mothers, use
reciprocal imitation of gestures, postures, facial expressions, vocalisations and feet movements to
establish contact and communicate. Fiamenghi used a mirror box containing a camera to
demonstrate that engagement with a self image has features indicating that the baby perceives that a
reflection cannot ‘play the game’. He found sex differences, boys 'showing off more to the mirror,
while girls showed a wider range of social expressions. Both boys and girls made self-exploring
movements while watching the mirror, indicating that they detect that the ‘other baby’ is actually
their own self.
Selby and Bradley (2003) sat trios of babies between 6 and 10 months of age on their own in their
pushchairs at equal distances from one another in a triangle. Complex
INFANTS’ SYMPATHETIC EMOTIONS SEEK TO SHARE MEANING | 79
Fig 3.7 Emma, 6 months old, in Scotland, is proud to know "Clap-a-clap-a-handies", a
traditional baby song. She sits on her father's knee at home and responds gleefully when
her mother invites her to perform for the photographer In the University, she shows how
her mother taught her, and watches her reflection in the camera window as she mutates
She is too young to understand what her mother means when she asks her to put the
wooden doll in the truck (Photos by Penelope and John Hubley and Colwyn Trevarthen)
and subtle expressive behaviours and exchanges established mini dramas between the interactants,
demonstrating a far greater capacity for sociable encounters than has been expected for infants
under one year.
Discovering the values of objects and rituals shared:
first companionship in ‘art, knowledge and skills’.
After 4 months, infants explore their surroundings, turning head and eyes to look about and
reaching to handle objects with emotional investment of curiosity and pleasure in discovery (Fig.
3.6). These moves are signalled to companions in expressions of interest, surprise, wonder, and of
pleasure or fear and irritation. The infant is aware of the person they are turning away from to
pursue self-centred interests, and is
80 | ACTION AND EMOTION IN DEVELOPMENT OF CULTURAL INTELLIGENCE
Fig. 3.8 Basilie, 12 months old, cooperates in a task and knows about useful objects.
She understands when her mother asks her to, "Put the doll in the truck", and looks
pleased as her mother congratulates her. On her mother's knee at the University, she
asked for The National Geographical magazine, recognising its yellow colour, takes
the book and starts 'reading it', looking at the pictures. At home with her mother, she
shares the post. (Photos by Penelope and John Hubley and Colwyn Trevarthen)
receptive to any 'presentation' of objects by others. The natural response of a playmate is to create
routines of dramatic play and to tease. Games with infants exercise sympathetic mirroring and
imitation of the motives of agency; i.e. of intentions, attentions and feelings. Infants at 6 months
show subtle transitions of interest and disinterest, determination and doubt, amusement and
irritation, surprise and confident recognition (Trevarthen, 1986b, 1990), and they begin to laugh
(Sroufe and Waters, 1976). They habituate quickly to dull repeating events, seeking new
experiences. They learn to value the reappearance of events that bring pleasures, or to fear and
withdraw from those that signal recurrence of unpleasant experience.
Their exploring and rapid habituation make infants beyond 4 months ideal subjects in laboratory
experiments on discriminative recognition, categorisation, 'intentional stance', and deferred
imitation. The infants are sensitive to dynamic parameters in artificial displays (Watson, 1972;
Gergely and Watson, 1999). They are detecting 'animacy’, and can predict the intentional aim of
persons' movements represented in dynamic visual displays (Legerstee, 1992). This kind of
‘intention sensitivity’, with selective response to mobiles that show ‘contingent re-activity’, leads
some researchers to deny infants ‘real’ awareness of other persons as separate subjects. I see it as
further evidence, albeit artificially obtained, for innate inter-subjectivity. In natural circumstances,
infant's investigative intelligence and sense of humour facilitate pleasurable communication with
The early-developed signs of interest in human purposes recall the pioneering experiments of
Michotte (1962) who, using simple visual displays with dynamic properties, proved that subjects
have internal criteria for identifying vital, psychologically motivated
INFANTS’ SYMPATHETIC EMOTIONS SEEK TO SHARE MEANING | 81
phenomena. In experiments to analyse how movies carry messages of human action in changing
patterns of light, Michotte charted the dimensions of change that evoke particular emotions, and
found critical values that all observers share. The parameters he identified correspond with the
‘sentie forms’ Manfred Clynes (1980) has found as carriers of emotion in music.
Infants are sensitive to the invariants in human action and expression discovered by Michotte and
by Clynes, and these sensibilities are exploited in psychologists' experiments as by parents in game
routines. Body action games and songs played with infants (Figures 6 and 7) employ narrative
sequences to capture the infant’s interest and generate shared amusement, and to modulate the
infant's excitement and enjoyment or to calm (Rock, et al., 1999; Trevarthen, 1999). Joking and
teasing, involving mutual interest and prediction, is a sure sign of a secure and loving relationship.
Fun in games is infectious and it makes friendships, as it does for young animals (Panksepp and
Burgdorf, 2003). Unsympathetic game play with an infant provokes distress and even violent
protest. Nakano (Nakano and Kanaya, 1993) has studied the subtle variations in ‘fun’ with infants
and identified a shared motivation for ‘tricky’ situations, which he calls ‘incident affinity’. This
essential foundation for negotiating complex intentions and cooperative awareness is motivated on
both sides, from the infant and from the parent.
Reflecting and thinking to oneself: taking ‘time off’ from
sociability to explore the flow of ideas in a recollected world.
Margaret Donaldson, in “Human Minds” (Donaldson, 1992), proposes that the development of
‘recall memory’ increases a child’s conscious imagining by steps. She describes the changes as a
journey through ‘point’, ‘line’, ‘elaborated’ and 'transcendent’ modes of awareness and
purposefulness. She offers the challenging proposal that there is a parallel development of
emotional intelligence through comparable stages. She points out that it is difficult to know if a
young baby can recall - he or she may be just acting with ‘recognition’ of immediately familiar
events or objects. But there are signs of imaginative reconstruction of past events in infants before a
year of age (e. g. Halliday, 1975), and this is essential preparation for 'telling' experiences and
judgements with others.
Introspective states of withdrawal from present activity into imagination and memory, which are
essential features of intelligent consciousness (Donald, 2001), do seem to occur in very young
infants (Figure 4). By three or four months a baby may be stubbornly drawn into ‘thinking’ states
that resist others' temptations to communicate (Figure 6). All parents who have sought to play with
a baby will recognise these withdrawals. I believe the ways inner and outer experience are managed
and shared are vital and necessary factors in the sharing of games. The social withdrawal may often
be a paradoxical communicative signal, a ploy to state a measure of independence, or even
defiance. The infant’s avoidances are often comical, and infants may smile as they avoid
82 | ACTION AND EMOTION IN DEVELOPMENT OF CULTURAL INTELLIGENCE
contact. I would relate this to Vasu Reddy’s discoveries of smiling ‘coyness’ when a 3 month old is
held by their mother up to a mirror, and to her explorations of incidents in which infants apparently
act deliberately as show-offs or ‘clowns’ (Reddy, 2003).
Peter Hobson in “The Cradle of Thought” (Hobson, 2002) gives the sharing of reflective states,
which he illustrates with a painting of the virgin and child in meditative mood, a key role in the
nurturing of thinking. It allows the minds of companions to be together while wandering through
their separate recollected experience and purposes.
Development of a social identity, and ‘self-awareness’:
conscious predictive control of the evaluation of self by others.
The well-charted crisis of self-consciousness of the 7-month-old, who is bold and exuberant with
persons who are familiar and loved (Figure 7), but timid or fearful with a stranger (Sroufe, 1977),
relates to an important forthcoming development in the intersubjectivity of play that takes place
about 9 months after birth (Trevarthen and Hubley, 1978). Then infants become both able and
willing to attend to, and comment about, purposeful actions they or others direct toward
environmental goals (Figure 8). They start to comply with instructions, as well as imitating manners
of behaving (Meltzoff, 1995; Hobson, 2002). Their gestures and expressions carry evidence of self-
conscious mental states, such as 'showing off or 'acting a part' (Trevarthen, 1990; Reddy, 2003). For
the first time the baby systematically combines vocalisation and gestures of ‘protolanguage’ to
communicate wishes, feelings, purposes, or experiences to their partners (Halliday, 1975). This
bridge between attending and commenting, between interest and the pleasure of company, is crucial
for the child’s entry into the world of meanings and the words or other symbols that may ‘encode’
them (Trevarthen, 1994).
A state of sympathetic participation with others in social life by 'mutual attention' (Reddy, 2003) is
fundamental to any collaborative awareness and convergence of interests and purposes or ‘joint
attention’ between persons (Tomasello, 1988). The motives that initiate cultural learning in infants
are essentially intersubjective, in the sense that they require sympathy of feelings between the child
and companions, not just identification of the diexis or aim of consciousness to a selected object of
interest. And the child has shown awareness of the orientation and shifts in direction of interest of a
partner in communication many months before prompt ‘joint attention’ behaviours become
common around 9 months. What does change is the motives of the child for sharing the interest and
value of another persons’ exploratory or manipulative intelligence (Trevarthen,
1980,1987,1994,1998,2001a). It is an advance in person- person-object awareness founded on
intimate awareness of the other as a particular, trusted friend (Fig 3.9).
‘Complex basic emotions’ can be seen in the first year (Draghi-Lorenz, et al., 2001; Reddy, 2003).
Observations of spontaneous expressions of infants in familiar circumstances, or with strangers,
show that 'self-other awareness' is regulated in the first 6 months by explicit relational states of
'pride', 'shame', jealousy and 'mistrust' (Fig 3.7).
INFANTS’ SYMPATHETIC EMOTIONS SEEK TO SHARE MEANING | 83
Fig 3.9 The cycle of interactions and communication that generates ‘common sense’.
An infant’s ‘self’ is engaged in controlled relations with the infant’s body (A), with
physical objects (B), and with other persons (C). These different realms of action and
awareness are coordinated by emotions of interest and pleasure, and combine in the
creation of meaning through sympathetic communication in companionship.
Expressions of delight, pleased satisfaction, surprise, irritation, or grief to displacements of gaze to
or away from other person’s eyes regulate the infant's communication with peers, in family triads
and with strangers. Self-consciousness and showing off with the mirror or with strangers, and with
peers, prove that young infants use complex emotions to regulate the dynamic balance of interest
and initiative with others. They help infants and their partners to share meanings that have been
invented together, and the infants mark their identity as 'knowers' (Trevarthen, 1990,2002).
Cultural learning: the develoment of thinking about things
with sense of other persons’ interests and feelings (Fig. 3.9)
An ability to acquire cultural skills and conventional or symbolic forms of acting shows itself in
rich displays of mimetic play when a toddler can speak very few, if any, words (Nadel, Guérini, et
al., 1999). It is at this stage that adventure creating and story-making
84 | ACTION AND EMOTION IN DEVELOPMENT OF CULTURAL INTELLIGENCE
‘fantasy’ play takes off, soon to be given the added power that talking gives (Nelson, 1996). The
toddler is a generator of metaphorical ideas and an infectious playmate for invention of blended
Intersubjective awareness, conversational exchanges and narrative imagination (mimesis and
metaphor) have a unique complexity and efficacy in humans (Turner, 1996; Donald, 2001). Human
toddlers and older children observe, leam and re-enact social mannerisms, ethical principles and
cognitive interests, as well as investigative problemsolving behaviour. Before they walk, they
represent to themselves elaborate technical and artistic routines in imaginative play, referring to
objects goals that are remote in time and space, many of which the community has invested with
value and meaning over generations (Trevarthen and Logotheti, 1987). All these purposes are
assisted by self- other-conscious emotions (Reddy, 2003), and the enjoyment of intentionally
supportive teaching behaviours that more experienced partners offer the child (Bruner, 1996;
Rogoff, et al., 2003). They are enriched by language, which fixes words to the actions and objects
of cooperative understanding, and to the feelings and qualities of acting and experiencing. In the
first stages of language learning, imitation, immediate and deferred, plays a key role (Tomasello,
1999). Emotions of relating (of affection and mistrust, pride and shame) are crucial in the
negotiation of purposes and interests in symbolic activity and language (Trevarthen, 1994).
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