Variation in pedagogy affects overimitation in children and adolescents

Marion Décaillet, Aurelien Frick, Xavier Lince, Thibaud Gruber, Solange Denervaud*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Children are strong imitators, which sometimes leads to overimitation of causally unnecessary actions. Here, we tested whether learning from a peer decreases this tendency. First, sixty-five 7-10-year-old children performed the Hook task (i.e., retrieve a reward from a jar with tools) with child or adult demonstrators. The overimitation rate was lower after watching a peer than an adult. Second, we tested whether experiencing peer-to-peer learning versus adult-driven learning (i.e., Montessori versus traditional pedagogy) impacted overimitation. Sixty-six 4-18-year-old children performed the Hook task with adult demonstrators only. Montessori-schooled children had a lower propensity to overimitate. These findings emphasize the importance of the teaching model across the school years. While peer models favor selective imitation, adult models encourage overimitation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105862
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Early online date5 Feb 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Feb 2024


  • Overimitation
  • Peer leaning
  • Hook task
  • Montessori education


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