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Three- and 4-year-olds encode modeled actions in two ways leading to immediate imitation and delayed emulation

Riggs, Kevin; Simpson, Andrew; Riggs, Kevin J.

Authors

Andrew Simpson



Abstract

When copying a model's behavior with a tool, children tend to imitate (copy the specific actions to replicate the model's goal) rather than emulate (bring about the model's goal in the most efficient way). Tasks producing these findings test children immediately after the behavior is modeled. In 2 experiments, we investigated children's copying behavior after a delay (of a week). In Experiment 1 (n = 90), we found that although 3- and 4-year-olds often imitate in the short term, they are more likely to emulate in the long term. Data from Experiment 2 (n = 80) were consistent with children remembering actions that were relevant to a causal narrative of the task. Overall, our data suggest that children simultaneously encode modeled behavior in 2 ways that lead to both imitation and emulation. In the discussion, we consider what kind of information leads children to emulate in the long term.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2011-05
Journal Developmental Psychology
Print ISSN 0012-1649
Electronic ISSN 0012-1649
Publisher American Psychological Association
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 47
Issue 3
Pages 834-840
Institution Citation Simpson, A., & Riggs, K. J. (2011). Three- and 4-year-olds encode modeled actions in two ways leading to immediate imitation and delayed emulation. Developmental Psychology, 47(3), (834-840). doi:10.1037/a0023270. ISSN 0012-1649
DOI https://doi.org/10.1037/a0023270
Keywords Life-span and Life-course Studies; Developmental and Educational Psychology; Demography