Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Imitation, collaboration, and their interaction among Western and Indigenous Australian preschool children

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle



This study explored how overimitation and collaboration interact in 3- to 6-year-old children in Westernized (N = 48 in Experiment 1; N = 26 in Experiment 2) and Indigenous Australian communities (N = 26 in Experiment 2). Whether working in pairs or on their own rates of overimitation did not differ. However, when the causal functions of modeled actions were unclear, the Indigenous Australian children collaborated at enhanced rates compared to the Western children. When the causal role of witnessed actions was identifiable, collaboration rates were correlated with production of causally unnecessary actions, but in the Indigenous Australian children only. This study highlights how children employ imitation and collaboration when acquiring new skills and how the latter can be influenced by task structure and cultural background.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)795-806
Number of pages12
JournalChild Development
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2016

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

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Cultural evolution in animals

    Whiten, A., Nov 2019, In : Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics. 50, p. 27-48

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. ‘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

  5. 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. The development of selective copying: children's learning from an expert versus their mother

    Lucas, A. J., Burdett, E. R. R., Burgess, V., Wood, L. A., McGuigan, N., Harris, P. L. & Whiten, A., 7 Nov 2017, In : Child Development. 88, 6, p. 2026-2042 17 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. The early emergence of guilt-motivated prosocial behavior

    Vaish, A., Carpenter, M. & Tomasello, M., 7 Nov 2016, In : Child Development. 87, 6, p. 1772-1782 11 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Learning from their own actions: the unique effect of producing actions on infants’ action understanding

    Gerson, S. & Woodward, A., Feb 2014, In : Child Development. 85, 1, p. 264-277

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Where Culture Takes Hold: "Overimitation" and Its Flexible Deployment in Western, Aboriginal, and Bushmen Children

    Nielsen, M., Mushin, I., Tomaselli, K. & Whiten, A., 1 Nov 2014, In : Child Development. 85, 6, p. 2169-2184 16 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 242658706