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Over-imitation is not automatic: context sensitivity in children's overimitation and action interpretation of causally irrelevant actions.
J Exp Child Psychol. 2015 Feb; 130:163-75.JE

Abstract

Recent research has documented the robust tendency of children to "over-imitate," that is, to copy causally irrelevant action elements in goal-directed action sequences. Different explanations for over-imitation have been proposed. Causal accounts claim that children mistakenly perceive such action elements as causally relevant and, therefore, imitate them. Affiliation accounts claim that children over-imitate to affiliate with the model. Normative accounts claim that children conceive of causally irrelevant actions as essential parts of an overarching conventional activity. These different accounts generally hold the same predictions regarding children's imitative response. However, it is possible to distinguish between them when one considers additional parameters. The normative account predicts wide-ranging flexibility with regard to action interpretation and the occurrence of over-imitation. First, it predicts spontaneous protest against norm violators who omit the causally irrelevant actions. Second, children should perform the causally irrelevant actions less frequently, and criticize others less frequently for omitting them, when the actions take place in a different context from the one of the initial demonstration. Such flexibility is not predicted by causal accounts and is predicted for only a limited range of contexts by affiliation accounts. Study 1 investigated children's own imitative response and found less over-imitation when children acted in a different context from when they acted in the same context as the initial demonstration. In Study 2, children criticized a puppet less frequently for omitting irrelevant actions when the puppet acted in a different context. The results support the notion that over-imitation is not an automatic and inflexible phenomenon.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Department of Biological Developmental Psychology, University of Göttingen, D-37073 Göttingen, Germany; Courant Research Centre, Evolution of Social Behavior, D-37077 Göttingen, Germany. Electronic address: stefanie.keupp@psych.uni-goettingen.de.Department of Biological Developmental Psychology, University of Göttingen, D-37073 Göttingen, Germany; Courant Research Centre, Evolution of Social Behavior, D-37077 Göttingen, Germany.Department of Biological Developmental Psychology, University of Göttingen, D-37073 Göttingen, Germany.Department of Biological Developmental Psychology, University of Göttingen, D-37073 Göttingen, Germany.Department of Biological Developmental Psychology, University of Göttingen, D-37073 Göttingen, Germany; Courant Research Centre, Evolution of Social Behavior, D-37077 Göttingen, Germany.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

Language

eng

PubMed ID

25462039

Citation

Keupp, Stefanie, et al. "Over-imitation Is Not Automatic: Context Sensitivity in Children's Overimitation and Action Interpretation of Causally Irrelevant Actions." Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, vol. 130, 2015, pp. 163-75.
Keupp S, Behne T, Zachow J, et al. Over-imitation is not automatic: context sensitivity in children's overimitation and action interpretation of causally irrelevant actions. J Exp Child Psychol. 2015;130:163-75.
Keupp, S., Behne, T., Zachow, J., Kasbohm, A., & Rakoczy, H. (2015). Over-imitation is not automatic: context sensitivity in children's overimitation and action interpretation of causally irrelevant actions. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 130, 163-75. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2014.10.005
Keupp S, et al. Over-imitation Is Not Automatic: Context Sensitivity in Children's Overimitation and Action Interpretation of Causally Irrelevant Actions. J Exp Child Psychol. 2015;130:163-75. PubMed PMID: 25462039.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Over-imitation is not automatic: context sensitivity in children's overimitation and action interpretation of causally irrelevant actions. AU - Keupp,Stefanie, AU - Behne,Tanya, AU - Zachow,Joanna, AU - Kasbohm,Alina, AU - Rakoczy,Hannes, Y1 - 2014/11/12/ PY - 2014/04/30/received PY - 2014/10/08/revised PY - 2014/10/09/accepted PY - 2014/12/3/entrez PY - 2014/12/3/pubmed PY - 2015/8/11/medline KW - Normativity KW - Over-imitation KW - Preschoolers KW - Rational imitation KW - Social cognition KW - Social learning SP - 163 EP - 75 JF - Journal of experimental child psychology JO - J Exp Child Psychol VL - 130 N2 - Recent research has documented the robust tendency of children to "over-imitate," that is, to copy causally irrelevant action elements in goal-directed action sequences. Different explanations for over-imitation have been proposed. Causal accounts claim that children mistakenly perceive such action elements as causally relevant and, therefore, imitate them. Affiliation accounts claim that children over-imitate to affiliate with the model. Normative accounts claim that children conceive of causally irrelevant actions as essential parts of an overarching conventional activity. These different accounts generally hold the same predictions regarding children's imitative response. However, it is possible to distinguish between them when one considers additional parameters. The normative account predicts wide-ranging flexibility with regard to action interpretation and the occurrence of over-imitation. First, it predicts spontaneous protest against norm violators who omit the causally irrelevant actions. Second, children should perform the causally irrelevant actions less frequently, and criticize others less frequently for omitting them, when the actions take place in a different context from the one of the initial demonstration. Such flexibility is not predicted by causal accounts and is predicted for only a limited range of contexts by affiliation accounts. Study 1 investigated children's own imitative response and found less over-imitation when children acted in a different context from when they acted in the same context as the initial demonstration. In Study 2, children criticized a puppet less frequently for omitting irrelevant actions when the puppet acted in a different context. The results support the notion that over-imitation is not an automatic and inflexible phenomenon. SN - 1096-0457 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/25462039/Over_imitation_is_not_automatic:_context_sensitivity_in_children's_overimitation_and_action_interpretation_of_causally_irrelevant_actions_ L2 - https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0022-0965(14)00188-X DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -