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Imitation of hierarchical structure versus component details of complex actions by 3- and 5-year-old children

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Author(s)

E Flynn, Andrew Whiten

School/Research organisations

Abstract

We investigated developmental changes in the level of information children incorporate into their imitation when a model executes complex, hierarchically organized actions. A total of 57 3-year-olds and 60 5-year-olds participated, watching video demonstrations of an "artificial fruit" box being opened through a complex series of nine different steps. Half of each sample observed the same nine steps performed through either of two different, hierarchically organized procedures, whereas half witnessed differing component action details. Children were found to imitate at both levels but were more likely to copy at the higher hierarchical level than at the level of specific action details. Fidelity to hierarchical organization, but not to the imitation of specific detail, increased with age. However, variation in imitativeness across children at one of these levels did not predict imitativeness at the other level. (C) 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)228-240
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Volume101
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008

    Research areas

  • Imitation, Hierarchy, Observational learning, Tool use, CHILDREN, VIDEO, INFORMATION, MEMORY, REPRESENTATION, TELEVISION, BEHAVIOR, INFANTS, REALITY, RECALL

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