Task-specific variables influence preschool children’s faithful versus selective imitation

Zhidan Wang1, Mengjin Bu1, Yuwen Li1, Haijing Wang1
1School of Education Science, Jiangsu Normal University, People’s Republic of China
Cite this article:  Wang, Z., Bu, M., Li, Y., & Wang, H. (2018). Task-specific variables influence preschool children’s faithful versus selective imitation. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 46(9), 1409-1420.

Volume 46 Issue 9 | e6585 | Published: September 2018 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.6585

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We investigated whether task-specific variables modulate children’s imitation to be selective or faithful. An adult performed four actions to retrieve a toy from a house in two contexts, after which children were given the opportunity to copy the adult’s actions. In the window and door context, the children could only retrieve the toy at the end. In the two doors context, the children were given the opportunity to retrieve the toy midway through the task or continue and retrieve it at the end. The results indicated that not only were the children more likely to reproduce the modeled actions in the window and door context than in the two doors context, but they were also more likely to reproduce the sequence of the actions. Our research adds to a growing body of literature indicating that children’s imitation is guided by a rational evaluation of task-specific variables and confirming that imitation is a source of learning, but it is not fixed, automatic, and stereotyped.

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