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Selective imitation in one-year-olds : how a model's characteristics influence imitation

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Zmyj,  Norbert
Department Psychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Zmyj, N. (2009). Selective imitation in one-year-olds: how a model's characteristics influence imitation. PhD Thesis, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0010-D7A3-4
Abstract
This dissertation investigated how characteristics of models influence imitation in one-year-old infants. In particular, we investigated the impact of a model’s age when performing novel and familiar behaviour as well as complete and incomplete behaviour. Moreover, we further examined the influence of a model’s reliability on imitation. In Experiment 1 we tested whether infants were able to detect differences in the rationality of a novel action when the models were televised. In Experiment 2 we investigated how a model’s age influences infants’ tendency to imitate depending on whether novel behaviour (Experiment 2a: illuminating a lamp by using the head) or familiar behaviour (Experiment 2b: performing body movements) were presented. The motivation for conducting Experiment 3 was twofold. The first part of Experiment 3 addressed the question of whether the type of behaviour and time of coding imitative behaviour influenced the findings of Experiment 2b. The second part of Experiment 3 explored how 14-month-olds re-enact failed attempts of familiar object-directed actions from differently aged models. Finally, Experiment 4 investigated whether infants imitate reliable models more often than unreliable models when observing novel behaviour. To summarise, these results of these experiments indicate that infants are remarkably flexible imitators. Two distinct motivations interact with a model’s characteristics in imitation tasks: that is, besides the motivation to learn novel behaviour from reliable adults via imitation, infants use imitation of familiar behaviour in order to interact socially with peers.