Saturday, October 12, 2019

Children from Namibia and Germany: Being observed increases overimitation in three diverse cultures

Stengelin, R., Hepach, R., & Haun, D. B. M. (2019). Being observed increases overimitation in three diverse cultures. Developmental Psychology, Oct 2019.

Abstract: From a young age, children in Western, industrialized societies overimitate others’ actions. However, the underlying motivation and cultural specificity of this behavior have remained unclear. Here, 3- to 8-year-old children (N = 125) from two rural Namibian populations (Hai||om and Ovambo) and one urban German population were tested in two versions of an overimitation paradigm. Across cultures, children selectively imitated more actions when the adult model was present compared to being absent, denoting a social motivation underlying overimitation. At the same time, children’s imitation was not linked to their tendency to reengage the adult in a second, independent measure of social motivation. These results suggest that, across diverse cultures, children’s imitative behavior is actuated by the attentive state of the model.

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