Volume 20, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1572-0373
  • E-ISSN: 1572-0381
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



Four studies examined 15- to 16-month-olds’ imitation of a model’s novel action with a familiar or an unfamiliar object. The infants observed a reliable or an unreliable model demonstrating a novel action with the object in a solitary observational (Study 1, 44 infants; Study 3, 40 infants) or in an interactive (Study 2, 48 infants; Study 4, 44 infants) context. The model’s reliability was manipulated by having the model acting competently or incompetently with different familiar objects. In two out of four studies infants imitated the model’s behavior when the model had previously shown to be reliable than when the model had been unreliable. The infants’ motivation to imitate was related to whether the reliable model interacted with the infants during object demonstration. More infants imitated the reliable model, who demonstrated the objects while interacting with the infants, than the reliable model who behaved in a disinterested manner during object demonstration.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Brooker, I., & Poulin-Dubois, D.
    (2013) Is a bird an apple? The effect of speaker labeling accuracy on infants’ word learning, imitation, and helping behaviors. Infancy, 18(s1), E46–E68. 10.1111/infa.12027
    https://doi.org/10.1111/infa.12027 [Google Scholar]
  2. Brugger, A., Lariviere, L. A., Mumme, D. L., & Bushnell, E. W.
    (2007) Doing the right thing: Infants’ selection of actions to imitate from observed event sequences. Child Development, 78(3), 806–824. 10.1111/j.1467‑8624.2007.01034.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2007.01034.x [Google Scholar]
  3. Butler, L. P., & Markman, E. M.
    (2012) Preschoolers use intentional and pedagogical cues to guide inductive inferences and exploration. Child Development, 83(4), 1416–1428. 10.1111/j.1467‑8624.2012.01775.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2012.01775.x [Google Scholar]
  4. Carpenter, M., Akhtar, N., & Tomasello, M.
    (1998) Fourteen- through 18-month-old infants differentially imitate intentional and accidental actions. Infant Behavior and Development, 21(2), 315–330. 10.1016/S0163‑6383(98)90009‑1
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0163-6383(98)90009-1 [Google Scholar]
  5. Chartrand, T. L., & Bargh, J. A.
    (1999) The chameleon effect: The perception-behavior link and social interaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76(6), 893–910. 10.1037/0022‑3514.76.6.893
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.76.6.893 [Google Scholar]
  6. Csibra, G., & Gergely, G.
    (2009) Natural pedagogy. Trends in cognitive sciences, 13(4), 148–153. 10.1016/j.tics.2009.01.005
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2009.01.005 [Google Scholar]
  7. Floor, P., & Akhtar, N.
    (2006) Can 18-month-old infants learn words by listening in on conversations?Infancy, 9(3), 327–339. 10.1207/s15327078in0903_4
    https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327078in0903_4 [Google Scholar]
  8. Harris, P. L., & Corriveau, K. H.
    (2011) Young children’s selective trust in informants. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, 366, 1179–1187. 10.1098/rstb.2010.0321
    https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2010.0321 [Google Scholar]
  9. Heyes, C. M.
    (2013) What can imitation do for cooperation?InK. Sterelny, R. Joyce, B. Calcott & B. Fraser (Eds.), Cooperation and its evolution (pp.313–333). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Király, I., Csibra, G., & Gergely, G.
    (2013) Beyond rational imitation: Learning arbitrary means actions from communicative demonstrations. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 116(2), 471–486. 10.1016/j.jecp.2012.12.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2012.12.003 [Google Scholar]
  11. Király, I.
    (2009) The effect of the model’s presence and of negative evidence on infants’ selective imitation. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 102(1), 14–25. 10.1016/j.jecp.2008.06.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2008.06.003 [Google Scholar]
  12. Matheson, H., Moore, C., & Akhtar, N.
    (2013) The development of social learning in interactive and observational contexts. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 114(2), 161–172. 10.1016/j.jecp.2012.09.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2012.09.003 [Google Scholar]
  13. Meltzoff, A. N.
    (2007a) ‘‘Like me’’: A foundation for social cognition. Developmental Science, 10(1), 126–134. 10.1111/j.1467‑7687.2007.00574.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-7687.2007.00574.x [Google Scholar]
  14. (2007b) The “like me” framework for recognizing and becoming an intentional agent. Acta Psychologica, 124(1), 26–43. 10.1016/j.actpsy.2006.09.005
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actpsy.2006.09.005 [Google Scholar]
  15. Moraru, C.-A., Gomez, J.-C., & McGuigan, N.
    (2016) Developmental changes in the influence of conventional and instrumental cues on over-imitation in 3- to 6-year-old children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 145, 34–47. 10.1016/j.jecp.2015.11.017
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2015.11.017 [Google Scholar]
  16. Nielsen, M., Cucchiaro, J., & Mohamedally, J.
    (2012) When the transmission of culture is child’s play. PLoS One, 7(3). 10.1371/journal.pone.0034066
    https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0034066 [Google Scholar]
  17. Nielsen, M.
    (2006) Copying actions and copying outcomes: Social learning through the second year. Developmental Psychology, 42(3), 555–565. 10.1037/0012‑1649.42.3.555
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.42.3.555 [Google Scholar]
  18. Nielsen, M., Simcock, G., & Jenkins, L.
    (2008) The effect of social engagement on 24-month-olds’ imitation from live and televised models. Developmental Science, 11(5), 722–731. 10.1111/j.1467‑7687.2008.00722.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-7687.2008.00722.x [Google Scholar]
  19. Poulin-Dubois, D., Brooker, I., & Polonia, A.
    (2011) Infants prefer to imitate a reliable person. Infant Behavior and Development, 34(2), 303–309. 10.1016/j.infbeh.2011.01.006
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.infbeh.2011.01.006 [Google Scholar]
  20. Rakoczy, H., Warneken, F., & Tomasello, M.
    (2008) The sources of normativity: young children’s awareness of the normative structure of games. Developmental Psychology, 44(3), 875–881. 10.1037/0012‑1649.44.3.875
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.44.3.875 [Google Scholar]
  21. Shimpi, P. M., Akhtar, N., & Moore, C.
    (2013) Toddlers’ imitative learning in interactive and observational contexts: the role of age and familiarity of the model. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 116(2), 309–323. 10.1016/j.jecp.2013.06.008
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2013.06.008 [Google Scholar]
  22. Shneidman, L., Todd, R., & Woodward, A. L.
    (2014) Why do directed interactions support imitative learning in young children?PLoS ONE, 9(10). 10.1371/journal.pone.0110891
    https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0110891 [Google Scholar]
  23. Tomasello, M.
    (1999) The cultural origins of human cognition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Zmyj, N., Buttelmann, D., Carpenter, M., & Daum, M. M.
    (2010) The reliability of a model influences 14-month-olds’ imitation. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 106(4), 208–220. 10.1016/j.jecp.2010.03.002
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2010.03.002 [Google Scholar]
  25. Yang, D., Sidman, J., & Bushnell, E. W.
    (2010) Beyond the information given: Infants’ transfer of actions learned through imitation. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 106(1), 62–81. 10.1016/j.jecp.2009.12.005
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2009.12.005 [Google Scholar]

Most Cited

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error