The power of imitation: Already in infancy, imitation promotes a general pro-social orientation toward others

The power of imitation: Already in infancy, imitation promotes a general pro-social orientation toward others

Being mimicked increases pro-social behavior in adults, yet little is known about its social effect on children. Researchers in Germany have now investigated whether the fact of being imitated had an influence on infants’ pro-social behavior and on young children’s trust in another person.

via ScienceDaily: Living Well News:

June 27, 2013 — Being mimicked increases pro-social behaviour in adults, yet little is known about its social effect on children. Researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, have now investigated whether the fact of being imitated had an influence on infants’ pro-social behaviour and on young children’s trust in another person.In one study, eighteen-month-old infants were either mimicked or not by an experimenter. Later, when this experimenter or a different adult needed help, infants who had been imitated were more likely to help spontaneously. In a second study, five- to six-year-olds interacted with one experimenter who mimicked their choices and another experimenter who made independent choices. The researchers found that the children were more likely to trust the preferences and factual claims of the experimenter who had mimicked them before. These results demonstrate that already in infancy mimicry promotes a general pro-social orientation toward others and that in young children imitation is a powerful means of social influence in development.Imitation is not only a means by which we learn from others. As adults, we routinely and automatically copy each other’s movements, postures, and facial expressions, and this has a variety of positive social consequences. After being mimicked, we behave more helpfully and generously toward others, from picking up others’ dropped belongings to giving more money to charity. Much less is known, however, about the social effects of imitation on infants and young children.Focusing on the social side of imitation, the researchers tested in a first study whether being mimicked increased pro-social behaviour in infants, as it does in adults. To this end, 48 eighteen-month-old infants were either mimicked or not by an experimenter: In the mimic condition, the experimenter immediately copied everything she saw or heard infants do. …

For more info: The power of imitation: Already in infancy, imitation promotes a general pro-social orientation toward others

ScienceDaily: Living Well News

The power of imitation: Already in infancy, imitation promotes a general pro-social orientation toward others

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