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Imitation by combination: preschool age children evidence summative imitation in a novel problem-solving task.

Subiaul F, Krajkowski E, Price EE, Etz A - Front Psychol (2015)

Bottom Line: Yet, imitation and innovation are both necessary components of cumulative cultural evolution.Across experiments, more than 75% of children evidenced summative imitation, opening both compartments of the problem box and retrieving the reward hidden in each.Generally, learning different actions from two different models was as good (and in some cases, better) than learning from 1 model, but the underlying representations appear to be the same in both demonstration conditions.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: The George Washington University, Washington DC, USA.

ABSTRACT
Children are exceptional, even 'super,' imitators but comparatively poor independent problem-solvers or innovators. Yet, imitation and innovation are both necessary components of cumulative cultural evolution. Here, we explored the relationship between imitation and innovation by assessing children's ability to generate a solution to a novel problem by imitating two different action sequences demonstrated by two different models, an example of imitation by combination, which we refer to as "summative imitation." Children (N = 181) from 3 to 5 years of age and across three experiments were tested in a baseline condition or in one of six demonstration conditions, varying in the number of models and opening techniques demonstrated. Across experiments, more than 75% of children evidenced summative imitation, opening both compartments of the problem box and retrieving the reward hidden in each. Generally, learning different actions from two different models was as good (and in some cases, better) than learning from 1 model, but the underlying representations appear to be the same in both demonstration conditions. These results show that summative imitation not only facilitates imitation learning but can also result in new solutions to problems, an essential feature of innovation and cumulative culture.

No MeSH data available.


Problem box task. (A) Closed problem box showing the two defenses (blue and red). (B) Opened problem box showing both upper and lower compartments.
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Figure 1: Problem box task. (A) Closed problem box showing the two defenses (blue and red). (B) Opened problem box showing both upper and lower compartments.

Mentions: The experimental apparatus was a problem box with two compartments (upper, lower) and two “defenses” consisting of Velcro strips (top, side) in distinct colors (red, blue) that prevented the compartments from opening (Figure 1). Two stickers were hidden in each compartment. After the child found the stickers, they placed them on a white piece of paper (8.5 in. X 11 in.). The experiment was video recorded for data coding at a later time. In order to simplify the task, only half of the box was rendered operable.


Imitation by combination: preschool age children evidence summative imitation in a novel problem-solving task.

Subiaul F, Krajkowski E, Price EE, Etz A - Front Psychol (2015)

Problem box task. (A) Closed problem box showing the two defenses (blue and red). (B) Opened problem box showing both upper and lower compartments.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4585006&req=5

Figure 1: Problem box task. (A) Closed problem box showing the two defenses (blue and red). (B) Opened problem box showing both upper and lower compartments.
Mentions: The experimental apparatus was a problem box with two compartments (upper, lower) and two “defenses” consisting of Velcro strips (top, side) in distinct colors (red, blue) that prevented the compartments from opening (Figure 1). Two stickers were hidden in each compartment. After the child found the stickers, they placed them on a white piece of paper (8.5 in. X 11 in.). The experiment was video recorded for data coding at a later time. In order to simplify the task, only half of the box was rendered operable.

Bottom Line: Yet, imitation and innovation are both necessary components of cumulative cultural evolution.Across experiments, more than 75% of children evidenced summative imitation, opening both compartments of the problem box and retrieving the reward hidden in each.Generally, learning different actions from two different models was as good (and in some cases, better) than learning from 1 model, but the underlying representations appear to be the same in both demonstration conditions.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: The George Washington University, Washington DC, USA.

ABSTRACT
Children are exceptional, even 'super,' imitators but comparatively poor independent problem-solvers or innovators. Yet, imitation and innovation are both necessary components of cumulative cultural evolution. Here, we explored the relationship between imitation and innovation by assessing children's ability to generate a solution to a novel problem by imitating two different action sequences demonstrated by two different models, an example of imitation by combination, which we refer to as "summative imitation." Children (N = 181) from 3 to 5 years of age and across three experiments were tested in a baseline condition or in one of six demonstration conditions, varying in the number of models and opening techniques demonstrated. Across experiments, more than 75% of children evidenced summative imitation, opening both compartments of the problem box and retrieving the reward hidden in each. Generally, learning different actions from two different models was as good (and in some cases, better) than learning from 1 model, but the underlying representations appear to be the same in both demonstration conditions. These results show that summative imitation not only facilitates imitation learning but can also result in new solutions to problems, an essential feature of innovation and cumulative culture.

No MeSH data available.