Being Mimicked Increases Prosocial Behavior in 18-Month-Old Infants

Malinda Carpenter*, Johanna Uebel, Michael Tomasello

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)


Most previous research on imitation in infancy has focused on infants' learning of instrumental actions on objects. This study focused instead on the more social side of imitation, testing whether being mimicked increases prosocial behavior in infants, as it does in adults (van Baaren, Holland, Kawakami, & van Knippenberg, 2004). Eighteen-month-old infants (N=48) were either mimicked or not by an experimenter; then either that experimenter or a different adult needed help. Infants who had previously been mimicked were significantly more likely to help both adults than infants who had not been mimicked. Thus, even in infancy, mimicry has positive social consequences: It promotes a general prosocial orientation toward others.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1511-1518
Number of pages8
JournalChild Development
Issue number5
Early online date14 Mar 2013
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013




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