Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Emulation and "over-emulation" in the social learning of causally opaque versus causally transparent tool use by 23- and 30-month-old children

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Author(s)

Nicola McGuigan, Andrew Whiten

School/Research organisations

Abstract

We explored whether a rising trend to blindly "overcopy" a model's causally irrelevant actions between 3 and 5 years of age, found in previous studies, predicts a more circumspect disposition in much younger children. Children between 23 and 30 months of age observed a model use a tool to retrieve a reward from either a transparent or opaque puzzle box. Some of the tool actions were irrelevant to reward retrieval, whereas others were causally necessary. The causal relevance of the tool actions was highly visible in the transparent box condition, allowing the participants to potentially discriminate which actions were necessary. In contrast, the causal efficacy of the tool was hidden in the opaque box condition. When both the 23- and 30-month-olds were presented with either the transparent or opaque box, they were most commonly emulative rather than imitative, performing only the causally necessary actions. This strategy contrasts with the blanket imitation of both causally irrelevant and causally relevant actions witnessed at 3 and 5 years of age in our previous studies. The results challenge a current view of 1- and 2-year-olds as largely "blind imitators"; instead, they show that these Young children have a variety of social learning processes available to them. More broadly the emerging patterns of results suggest, rather counterintuitively, that the human species becomes more imitative rather than less imitative with age, in some ways "mindlessly" so. (C) 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-381
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Volume104
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009

    Research areas

  • Social learning, Imitation, Emulation, Tool use, Children, Overcopying, CHILDREN HOMO-SAPIENS, CHIMPANZEES PAN-TROGLODYTES, ARTIFICIAL FRUIT, IMITATION, INFANTS, APE, KNOWLEDGE, TASK

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. The reach of gene-culture coevolution in animals

    Whitehead, H., Laland, K. N., Rendell, L., Thorogood, R. & Whiten, A., 3 Jun 2019, In : Nature Communications. 10, 10 p., 2405.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

  2. Animal cultures matter for conservation

    Brakes, P., Dall, S. R. X., Aplin, L. M., Bearhop, S., Carroll, E. L., Ciucci, P., Fishlock, V., Ford, J. K. B., Garland, E. C., Keith, S. A., McGregor, P. K., Mesnick, S. L., Noad, M. J., Notarbartolo di Sciara, G., Robbins, M. M., Simmonds, M. P., Spina, F., Thornton, A., Wade, P. R., Whiting, M. J. & 5 others, Williams, J., Rendell, L., Whitehead, H., Whiten, A. & Rutz, C., 8 Mar 2019, In : Science. 363, 6431, p. 1032-1034 5 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. ‘Over-imitation’: a review and appraisal of a decade of research

    Hoehl, S., Keupp, S., Schleihauf, H., McGuigan, N., Buttelmann, D. & Whiten, A., Mar 2019, In : Developmental Review. 51, p. 90-108

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

  4. Conformity and over-imitation: an integrative review of variant forms of hyper-reliance on social learning

    Whiten, A., 14 Jan 2019, Advances in the Study of Behavior. Elsevier, (Advances in the Study of Behavior).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Related by journal

  1. How prior experience and task presentation modulate innovation in 6-year-old-children

    Ebel, S. J., Hanus, D. & Call, J., Apr 2019, In : Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 180, p. 87-103 17 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Comprehension of iconic gestures by chimpanzees and human children

    Bohn, M., Call, J. & Tomasello, M., Feb 2016, In : Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 142, p. 1-17 17 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. I won't tell: Young children show loyalty to their group by keeping group secrets

    Misch, A., Over, H. & Carpenter, M., Feb 2016, In : Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 142, p. 96-106

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. “Model age-based” and “copy when uncertain” biases in children’s social learning of a novel task

    Wood, L. A., Harrison, R. A., Lucas, A. J., McGuigan, N., Burdett, E. R. R. & Whiten, A., Oct 2016, In : Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 150, p. 272-284 13 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 450359

Top