Over-imitation is better explained by norm learning than by distorted causal learning
2011 (English)In: Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Biological Sciences, ISSN 0962-8452, E-ISSN 1471-2954, Vol. 278, no 1709, 1239-1246 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
In over-imitation, children copy even elements of a goal-directed action sequence that appear unnecessary for achieving the goal. We demonstrate in 4-year olds that the unnecessary action is specifically associated with the goal, not generally associated with the apparatus. The unnecessary action is performed flexibly: 4-year olds usually omit it if it has already been performed by an adult. Most 5-year olds do not verbally report the unnecessary action as necessary when achieving the goal, although most of them report an equivalent but necessary action as necessary. Most 5-year olds explain the necessary action in functional terms, but are unsure as to the function of the unnecessary action. These verbal measures do not support the hypothesis that children over-imitate primarily because they encode unnecessary actions as causing the goal even in causally transparent systems. In a causally transparent system, explanations for over-imitation fitting the results are that children are ignorant of the unnecessary action's purpose, and that they learn a prescriptive norm that it should be carried out. In causally opaque systems, however, for children and for adults, any action performed before achieving the goal is likely to be inferred as causally necessary-this is not over-imitation, but ordinary causal learning.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 278, no 1709, 1239-1246 p.
social learning, over-imitation, children, norm acquisition, causal learning
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-157658DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2010.1399ISI: 000288241300017OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-157658DiVA: diva2:436151