Humans accomplish much of what they do in collaboration with others. In ontogeny, children’s earliest abilities to collaborate develop in two basic steps.
First, 1- and 2-year-olds learn to form with others joint goals and joint attention–which include an understanding of the individual roles and perspectives involved. Second, as they approach their third birthdays, children’s collaborative interactions with others take on a more normative dimension involving obligations to the partner. In addition, their cognitive abilities to conceptualize simultaneously both their own role and perspective along with those of the other develop considerably as well. This form of collaborative interaction is underlain by species-unique skills and motivations for shared intentionality that make possible, ultimately, such things as complex cultural institutions.