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Evidence for a dual-process account of over-imitation: Children imitate anti- and prosocial models equally, but prefer prosocial models once they become aware of multiple solutions to a task.
PLoS One. 2021; 16(9):e0256614.Plos

Abstract

Children imitate actions that are perceivably unnecessary to achieve the instrumental goal of an action sequence, a behavior termed over-imitation. It is debated whether this behavior is based on the motivation to follow behavioral norms and affiliate with the model or whether it can be interpreted in terms of a behavioral heuristic to copy observed intentional actions without questioning the purpose of each action step. To resolve this question, we tested whether preschool-aged children (N = 89) over-imitate a prosocial model, a helper in a prior third-party moral transgression, but refuse to over-imitate an antisocial model, the perpetrator of the moral transgression. After first observing an inefficient way to extract a reward from a puzzle box from either a perpetrator or a helper, children over-imitated the perpetrator to the same degree as they over-imitated the helper. In a second phase, children were then presented the efficient solution by the respective other model, i.e. the helper or the perpetrator. Over-imitation rates then dropped in both conditions, but remained significantly higher than in a baseline condition only when children had observed the prosocial model demonstrate the inefficient action sequence and the perpetrator performed the efficient solution. In contrast, over-imitation dropped to baseline level when the perpetrator had modelled the inefficient actions and the prosocial model subsequently showed children the efficient solution. In line with a dual-process account of over-imitation, results speak to a strong initial tendency to imitate perceivably irrelevant actions regardless of the model. Imitation behavior is then adjusted according to social motivations after deliberate consideration of different options to attain the goal.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Cognitive Ethology Laboratory, German Primate Center - Leibniz Institute for Primate Research, Göttingen, Germany. Social Origins Lab, Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California, United States of America. Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany.Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany. Faculty of Psychology, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

Pub Type(s)

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

Language

eng

PubMed ID

34529702

Citation

Schleihauf, Hanna, and Stefanie Hoehl. "Evidence for a Dual-process Account of Over-imitation: Children Imitate Anti- and Prosocial Models Equally, but Prefer Prosocial Models once They Become Aware of Multiple Solutions to a Task." PloS One, vol. 16, no. 9, 2021, pp. e0256614.
Schleihauf H, Hoehl S. Evidence for a dual-process account of over-imitation: Children imitate anti- and prosocial models equally, but prefer prosocial models once they become aware of multiple solutions to a task. PLoS One. 2021;16(9):e0256614.
Schleihauf, H., & Hoehl, S. (2021). Evidence for a dual-process account of over-imitation: Children imitate anti- and prosocial models equally, but prefer prosocial models once they become aware of multiple solutions to a task. PloS One, 16(9), e0256614. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0256614
Schleihauf H, Hoehl S. Evidence for a Dual-process Account of Over-imitation: Children Imitate Anti- and Prosocial Models Equally, but Prefer Prosocial Models once They Become Aware of Multiple Solutions to a Task. PLoS One. 2021;16(9):e0256614. PubMed PMID: 34529702.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Evidence for a dual-process account of over-imitation: Children imitate anti- and prosocial models equally, but prefer prosocial models once they become aware of multiple solutions to a task. AU - Schleihauf,Hanna, AU - Hoehl,Stefanie, Y1 - 2021/09/16/ PY - 2021/05/05/received PY - 2021/08/10/accepted PY - 2021/9/16/entrez PY - 2021/9/17/pubmed PY - 2021/11/23/medline SP - e0256614 EP - e0256614 JF - PloS one JO - PLoS One VL - 16 IS - 9 N2 - Children imitate actions that are perceivably unnecessary to achieve the instrumental goal of an action sequence, a behavior termed over-imitation. It is debated whether this behavior is based on the motivation to follow behavioral norms and affiliate with the model or whether it can be interpreted in terms of a behavioral heuristic to copy observed intentional actions without questioning the purpose of each action step. To resolve this question, we tested whether preschool-aged children (N = 89) over-imitate a prosocial model, a helper in a prior third-party moral transgression, but refuse to over-imitate an antisocial model, the perpetrator of the moral transgression. After first observing an inefficient way to extract a reward from a puzzle box from either a perpetrator or a helper, children over-imitated the perpetrator to the same degree as they over-imitated the helper. In a second phase, children were then presented the efficient solution by the respective other model, i.e. the helper or the perpetrator. Over-imitation rates then dropped in both conditions, but remained significantly higher than in a baseline condition only when children had observed the prosocial model demonstrate the inefficient action sequence and the perpetrator performed the efficient solution. In contrast, over-imitation dropped to baseline level when the perpetrator had modelled the inefficient actions and the prosocial model subsequently showed children the efficient solution. In line with a dual-process account of over-imitation, results speak to a strong initial tendency to imitate perceivably irrelevant actions regardless of the model. Imitation behavior is then adjusted according to social motivations after deliberate consideration of different options to attain the goal. SN - 1932-6203 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/34529702/Evidence_for_a_dual_process_account_of_over_imitation:_Children_imitate_anti__and_prosocial_models_equally_but_prefer_prosocial_models_once_they_become_aware_of_multiple_solutions_to_a_task_ L2 - https://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0256614 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -