Development of consciousness

Colwyn Trevarthen, Jonathan Delafield-Butt

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary

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Recent research that uses refined methods of tracing infant’s movements to determine how they are coordinated and integrated proves they are directed in selective ways to take in and adjust to information from the senses about the present environment. It shows that the circumstances and objects of the infant’s actions are evaluated by the infant as ‘good’ (attractive and rewarding or pleasurable), or ‘bad’ (frightening and avoided, or resisted). The manifestations of purposeful, expectant and evaluated consciousness are identified as proof of Self-awareness, or ‘subjectivity’. Studies of the imitative and provocative actions of newborn infants in response to the behaviours of other persons who give close attention to them prove also that there is an innate Other-awareness, or ‘inter-subjectivity’, that attends to and sympathises with expressive movements of a person (Trevarthen, 2001; Kugiumutzakis and Trevarthen, 2015).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCambridge Encyclopedia of Child Development
EditorsBrian Hopkins, Elena Geangu, Sally Linkenauger
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9781107103412
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017


  • human awareness
  • human consiousness
  • self awareness


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