Joint Attention: Perception and Other Minds

From care-giver and infant playing with a toy, to singing duets or playing basketball, we frequently and effortlessly coordinate our attention with others towards a common focus. Joint attention plays a fundamental role in our social lives: it ensures that we refer to the same object, develop a shared language, understand each other and coordinate our actions.

This project aims is to elucidate the relational nature of joint attention, and its functional significance for social cognition, including cases involving different sense modalities and more complex forms of joint activities.

The project's subgoals are to:

  • clarify the role of perceptual experience for characterising joint attention;
  • propose a functional framework to assess multisensory contributions to establishing and maintaining joint attention;
  • test the hypothesis that engaging in joint attention can affect the processing of multisensory information.

Collective perception and the sense of reality

We can differentiate veridical perceptual experiences from imagination and hallucination, because veridical perception comes together with a feeling that we are perceiving the real world: a sense of reality. But what makes an experience feel real? In both analytic and phenomenological philosophy traditions, perceptual social interaction has been considered an important step for the idea of a shared objective reality. However, most philosophical accounts of the sense of reality in perception take an individualistic approach.

The aim of this project is to build on the proposal that we directly perceive the content of another’s perspective, and examine how a sense of reality is constructed through shared perception. I will critically examine the claim that the ability to coordinate my perception to an object together with another individual, goes hand in hand with the ability to experience objects as real, and differentiate them from hallucinations and imagery.


Battich, L., Garzorz, I., Wahn, B., & Deroy, O. (2021). The impact of joint attention on the sound-induced flash illusions. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 83(8), 3056–3068. doi: 10.3758/s13414-021-02347-5. pdf

Battich, L. and Geurts, B. (2021). Joint attention and perceptual experience. Synthese, 198(9), 8809-8822. doi: 10.1007/s11229-020-02602-6. pdf

Battich, L., Fairhurst, M., & Deroy, O. (2020). Coordinating attention requires coordinated senses. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 27(6), 1126–1138. doi: 10.3758/s13423-020-01766-z. pdf

Battich, L. (2018). Are non-human primates Gricean? Intentional communication in language evolution. Pulse: A History, Sociology and Philosophy of Science Journal. Vol. 5, 70-88. pdf, journal page

Under peer-review

Opening up the Openness of Joint Attention. Draft PDF