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ERIC Number: EJ935318
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 19
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 46
ISSN: ISSN-1524-8372
Guided by Intention: Preschoolers' Imitation Reflects Inferences of Causation
Gardiner, Amy K.; Greif, Marissa L.; Bjorklund, David F.
Journal of Cognition and Development, v12 n3 p355-373 2011
Object use is a ubiquitous characteristic of the human species, and learning how objects function is a fundamental part of development. In this article the authors examine the role that intentionality plays in children's understanding of causal relationships during observational learning of object use. Children observed demonstrations in which causally irrelevant and causally relevant actions were performed to achieve a desired goal. The intentionality of these actions was manipulated using verbal markers. Irrelevant actions were performed either intentionally ("There!") or accidentally ("Whoops! I didn't mean to do that!"). Three-, 4-, and 5-year-olds, but not 2-year-olds, were less likely to imitate causally irrelevant actions performed accidentally than when they were performed intentionally. This suggests that older children used intentionality to guide causal inference and perceived intentional actions as causally effective and accidental actions as causally ineffective. Findings are discussed from an evolutionary perspective in relation to the cultural transmission of tool-use knowledge. (Contains 4 tables and 2 figures.)
Psychology Press. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Preschool Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A