Very often, I observe that a toddler A who currently focuses their attention on a specific toy or activity becomes distracted if another toddler B begins playing with an object O that A played with previously.

Subsequently, A shifts their attention to B and O and aborts their current activity, even though it often appears that A was fully engaged in the previous activity and no resources for attention shift were free. Most times, A approaches B and a dispute about O arises.

For me, it seems to be a basic need of a toddler, although I can't find a specific theory that provides a coherent description of my observation.

Does any cognitive science theory explain the tendency for toddlers to desire objects held by other toddlers?


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