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The Social Side of Imitation

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DOI

Abstract

Children's imitation is a profoundly social process. Although previous developmental accounts of imitation have focused on imitation as a way to learn from others, the current article stresses that imitation goes far beyond this: It is often intimately tied to children's need to belong to the group and their drive to affiliate with those around them. Accordingly, imitation is chiefly determined by the social motivations and pressures children experience within both interpersonal and intergroup settings. This perspective resolves an apparent paradox in the empirical literature, explaining why children sometimes copy selectively and sometimes copy faithfully (so-called overimitation). It also situates the developmental and comparative study of imitation and cultural transmission within a broader social-psychological framework, uniting it conceptually with research on mimicry, conformity, normativity, and group membership.

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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-11
Number of pages6
JournalChild Development Perspectives
Volume7
Issue number1
Early online date8 Nov 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013

    Research areas

  • imitation, group membership, social pressure, CHILDREN, AFFILIATION, CONFORMITY, SPEAKERS, MIMICRY, CULTURE, HUMANS, AUTISM, SCOPE, PEER

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