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Children’s Imitation is Affected by Goals, but the Goals are Outstanding Action Characteristics rather than Action Outcomes

Author(s): Takashi Mizuguchi | Ryoko Sugimura | Ryujiro Suzuki | Toshisada Deguchi

Journal: Psychology
ISSN 2152-7180

Volume: 02;
Issue: 08;
Start page: 869;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Imitation-Specific Goal Selection | Generalist Hypothesis | Children

It has been proposed that imitation in children is strongly affected by goals extracted from others’ movements. More specifically, imitation-specific goal selection, or a tendency that movement outcomes, rather than means, are more likely to be selected as goals, has been proposed. Conversely, research on imitation in adults has proposed the generalist hypothesis, or the hypothesis that relatively dominant characteristics in movements are simply selected as goals, in the recent years. The present study tested the validity of imitation-specific goal selection with 64 children (M age = 5.2, age range: 4.1 - 6.0) using tasks that were similar to those used in research on imitation in adults. Movements composed of four elements were presented, and errors were analyzed by component. In this process, coloring emphasized one of the four elements, and presentation order of the elements was changed. Results suggested that relatively accentuating a specific element by coloring reduced the errors on the element. In the control condition in which coloring was not applied, the fewest errors were for means. Overall, the results did not support validity of imitation-specific goal selection in children, indicative of the validity the generalist hypothesis.
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