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The role of social interaction and pedagogical cues for eliciting and reducing overimitation in preschoolers

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Hoehl, S., Zettersten, M., Schleihauf, H., Grätz, S., & Pauen, S. (2014). The role of social interaction and pedagogical cues for eliciting and reducing overimitation in preschoolers. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 122, 122-133. doi:10.1016/j.jecp.2013.12.012.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002B-B0F3-7
Abstract
The tendency to imitate causally irrelevant actions is termed overimitation. Here we investigated (a) whether communication of a model performing irrelevant actions is necessary to elicit overimitation in preschoolers and (b) whether communication of another model performing an efficient action modulates the subsequent reduction of overimitation. In the study, 5-year-olds imitated irrelevant actions both when they were modeled by a communicative and pedagogical experimenter and when they were modeled by a non-communicative and non-pedagogical experimenter. However, children stopped using the previously learned irrelevant actions only when they were subsequently shown the more efficient way to achieve the goal by a pedagogical experimenter. Thus, communication leads preschoolers to adapt their imitative behavior but does not seem to affect overimitation in the first place. Results are discussed with regard to the importance of communication for the transmission of cultural knowledge during development.