Do children overimitate in a helping context? Exploring how response conditions influence the reproduction of unnecessary goal-direct actions

Elkins, Rosemary (2012). Do children overimitate in a helping context? Exploring how response conditions influence the reproduction of unnecessary goal-direct actions Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Elkins, Rosemary
Thesis Title Do children overimitate in a helping context? Exploring how response conditions influence the reproduction of unnecessary goal-direct actions
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2012-10-10
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Mark Nielsen
Total pages 61
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Abstract/Summary Children will reliably reproduce an entire sequence of goal-directed actions modelled to them, even those that are not functionally necessary to achieving the outcome at hand. This is termed overimitation. It is widely believed that this behavioural pattern mediates the reproduction and transmission of cultural knowledge; however, debate surrounds its underlying mechanism. The natural pedagogy hypothesis suggests that overimitation is elicited through engagement in an ostensive, pedagogical framework. However, because most overimitation studies are conducted within this context, we have little understanding of how children behave when they are required to respond in absence of pedagogical demands. This study manipulated the context surrounding children’s opportunity to make an imitative response. Here, 40 four-year-old children were shown an ostensively communicated sequence of actions that incorporated both causally-related and arbitrary actions. One group of children responded whilst engaged in a standard pedagogical context, and two groups responded whilst engaged in helping a naïve adult (one in the presence of the model, and the other in her absence). Children imitated the unnecessary sequence of actions with high fidelity across both response contexts, suggesting that children’s overimitation behaviour is not constrained to response contexts in which they experience pedagogical demand. Additionally, children in the helping context were more likely to transfer arbitrary actions to a naïve adult compared to causally-related actions. Thus, when engaged in helping a naïve adult, it appears that children place as much emphasis upon performing the ‘ritualistic’ process of achieving the outcome, as they do on achieving the outcome itself.
Keyword Child overimitation in a helping context
Response conditions
Goal-direct actions

 
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Created: Mon, 25 Feb 2013, 13:21:42 EST by Mrs Ann Lee on behalf of School of Psychology