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ERIC Number: EJ934443
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Jul
Pages: 4
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 26
ISSN: ISSN-0012-1649
Imitation in Young Children: When Who Gets Copied Is More Important than What Gets Copied
Nielsen, Mark; Blank, Cornelia
Developmental Psychology, v47 n4 p1050-1053 Jul 2011
Unlike other animals, human children will copy all of an adult's goal-directed actions, including ones that are clearly unnecessary for achieving the demonstrated goal. Here we highlight how social affiliation is key to this species-specific behavior. Preschoolers watched 2 adults retrieve a toy from a novel apparatus. One adult included irrelevant actions in her demonstration; the other only used actions causally related to opening the apparatus. After both adults took turns demonstrating, 1 left the test room, and the remaining adult gave the apparatus to the child. Children reproduced the irrelevant actions only when given the apparatus by the adult who had demonstrated them, even though the departed adult's actions emphasized how unnecessary these redundant actions were. Our results highlight the specialized skills for participating in cultural groups that have evolved in humans and provide insight into why finding such high fidelity copying in other animals has proven elusive. (Contains 1 table and 1 footnote.)
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Early Childhood Education; Preschool Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A