Rational imitation in 12-month-old infants

Christiane Schwier, Catharine van Maanen, Malinda Carpenter*, Michael Tomasello

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Gergely, Bekkering, and Kirdly (2002) demonstrated that 14-month-old infants engage in "rational imitation." To investigate the development and flexibility of this skill, we tested 12-month-olds on a different but analogous task. Infants watched as an adult made a toy animal use a particular action to get to an endpoint. In 1 condition there was a barrier that prevented a more straightforward action and so gave the actor no choice but to use the demonstrated action. In the other condition there was no barrier, so the actor had a free choice to use the demonstrated action or not. Twelve-month-olds showed the same pattern of results as in Gergely and colleagues' study: They copied the particular action demonstrated more often when the adult freely chose to use the action than when she was forced to use it. Twelve-month-olds, too, thus show an understanding of others' intentions as rational choices and can use this understanding in cultural learning contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-311
JournalInfancy
Volume10
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Keywords

  • 12-AND 18-MONTH-OLDS
  • INTENDED ACTS
  • GOALS
  • INTENTIONS
  • ATTENTION
  • CHILDREN
  • OTHERS

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