Two-year-olds can socially learn to think divergently.Br J Dev Psychol. 2018 03; 36(1):22-36.BJ
This study aimed to discover whether 2-year-olds can socially learn to think divergently. Two-year-olds (N = 22) who saw an experimenter model a high level of divergent thinking on the Unusual Box Test (modelling 25 different actions, once each) went on to demonstrate a higher level of divergent thinking themselves than (N = 22) children who saw a low level of modelling (five different actions, once each), where divergent thinking was measured by the number of different actions children produced that had not been modelled by the experimenter. Additionally, all children in both High and Low Divergence conditions had higher divergent thinking than imitation scores, where imitation involved copying the experimenter's previous actions. This is the first experiment to show that 2-year-olds' divergent thinking can be increased, and that 2-year-olds do so by socially learning to think more divergently. Statement of contribution What is already known on this subject Recent research found that children as young as 1 year can think divergently, and that this is influenced by parents' own divergent thinking. What does this study add? This paper is important as it provides the first method to increase divergent thinking in toddlers. It also shows that social learning can directly affect individual learning processes, which suggests current theories of social and individual learning should be revised to be more iterative.