What is intersubjectivity?


The notion of intersubjectivity is relatively recent or rather, a concept that had an important advance in the field of developmental psychology. Our identity is woven, from our birth, by our interactions with a world full of subjects and objects. Intersubjectivity is a concept according to which men are thinking subjects capable of taking into consideration the thinking of the other in their own judgment . Speaking of subjectivity means that human experience is not that of an individual isolated from the world and from others, but rather that of a being that relates to others.


What is intersubjectivity?

Intersubjectivity is a term used in psychology, philosophy, and anthropology to represent the relationships between individuals . It refers to the experience lived between two or more people, which can be at an affective or cognitive level and is shared at a mental level. In other words, intersubjectivity is a process through which knowledge and information are shared with others and that are fundamental for the creation of ideas and relationship.


Definition of intersubjectivity

Intersubjectivity is a perception of the subjectivity of another, in relation to another . The subjectivity of perception is expressed within an intersubjectivity with other individuals that thus founds the objectivity of perception.


The word is composed of the suffix “inter” which means the “relationship between”, communication, and the word “subjectivity” which refers to the intuition of the subject . It should be remembered that the subjectivity of an individual refers to the influence that his temperament, his own convictions, his personal motivations have on his mental activity.


  • Empathy: refers to the ability to feel other people’s emotions along with the ability to imagine what someone might think or feel.


  • It implies reciprocity , which means that both individuals are unconsciously influenced emotionally and psychologically.
  • It is characterized by the interaction of elements such as contact, bonding, breaks, and interpersonal losses.
  • It is part of the social environment . The “here” is defined because the existence of a “there” is evidenced where the other is. This allows one subject to put himself in the place of another.
  • It allows the subject to make sense of and interpret the actions of another subject in a subjective way, drawing on their previous knowledge.
  • It determines that shared and consensual cognition and perception are essential for the formation of ideas and relationships.
  • Define what is objective and what is subjective.
  • It refers to common sense, to the meanings shared and constructed by people in their interactions with others and used as a daily resource to interpret the meaning of the elements of social and cultural life.

Primary intersubjectivity

Primary intersubjectivity refers to the adjustment of the interactions that are woven between mother and baby from the latter’s second month of life . The baby is sensitive to his mother’s expressions and rhythm and synchronizes with her in their interactions, either synchronously or alternately. This reciprocity is governed by intermittent eye contact and by sight of mouth movements.

Secondary intersubjectivity

This appears around nine months of life and is defined as a cooperative “person-person-object” understanding . Secondary intersubjectivity is only possible from the experience of separation and individuation. This designates the transmission of messages between the two individuals. They can be emotional, imaginary or symbolic messages.

Intersubjectivity in philosophy

The concept of intersubjectivity was first enunciated by the German philosopher Edmund Husserl , founder of phenomenology . For Hursserl all consciousness is consciousness of something and our consciousness recognizes the existence of other consciousnesses in an experience that originates in coexistence . Intersubjectivity implies the consideration of the other’s thinking in the elaboration of the subject’s knowledge.


Example 1

Love is the first example of intersubjectivity that implies the existence of a shared feeling of care and affection, among others.

Example 2

Certain Islamic terrorist groups such as ISIS, follow the idea that the Western world is an enemy that must be killed as it is full of infidels and sinners. The approach is accepted by others who become followers of these ideas despite the fact that the Koran does not propose approaches of this nature. This shared belief is intersubjective in nature.

Example 3

When a law is approved on a certain topic, consensus between several people is necessary. This is part of intersubjectivity.

Example 4

Two people who share a dream, a project.

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