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By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on May 27, 2010 

Developmental psychologists have always known children learn by imitating adults.

Now, a new study of Australian preschoolers and Kalahari Bushman children finds that a particular kind of imitation — over-imitation, in which a child copies everything an adult shows them, not just the steps that lead to some outcome — appears to be a universal human activity.

Researchers believe the work sheds light on how humans develop and transmit culture.

Scientists “have been finding this odd effect where children will copy everything that they see an adult demonstrate to them, even if there are clear or obvious reasons why those actions would be irrelevant,” says psychologist Mark Nielsen, of the University of Queensland in Australia. “It’s something that we know that other primates don’t do.” If a chimpanzee is shown an irrelevant action, they won’t copy it — they’ll skip right to the action that makes something happen.

But it’s not clear that the results found in child psychology research apply to all people, Nielsen says. This research is usually done with children who live in Western cultures, whose parents are well-educated and middle- to upper class. And these parents are constantly teaching their children. But parents in indigenous cultures generally don’t spend a lot of time teaching.

Read in Full:  http://psychcentral.com/news/2010/05/27/modeling-behavior-for-children-has-long-lasting-effects/14139.html



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