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Messenger Imitation is a key part of the way humans learn. We can pick up new skills by observing others: Throughout human history, the capacity to learn through imitation may have helped our species thrive. Studies suggest that this can have surprising effects on our social interactions.
Being imitated can increase the trust you have in a total stranger, prompt you to give more to charity, and see you leaving a bigger tip at the end of your meal.
Imitating others seems easy. Young children can learn how to play a game by watching their peers. As adults, we can readily copy the gestures locals use in a foreign country. But the ease with which we can copy each other hides the complexities involved in translating the actions we see into actions we can do ourselves.
Getting this translation wrong — for instance, returning a smile with a frown — could have unintended social consequences. Scientists therefore consider imitation to be a sophisticated cognitive achievement, and for many years thought that the capacity to do it was unique to humans and other great apes.
Stick out your tongue So where does this ability to imitate come from? In an influential series of experiments conducted in the 70s and 80s, renowned developmental psychologists Andrew Meltzoff and M Keith Moore presented newborn infants — many just a few hours old — with adult models protruding their tongues and making different types of facial gestures, and recorded how often the babies reproduced each movement.
Infants appeared to produce more of a particular gesture when it matched the one being performed by the model — as if the infants were copying what they saw.
Since newborns have no opportunity to learn about the appearance of their expressions, these findings suggested a remarkable possibility: Similar experiments have since been attempted with other primate species.
Reports of neonatal imitation took the scientific community by storm, gaining widespread media coverage. As well as prompting much excitement, however, the results were also the source of huge controversy. For decades, sceptics have argued that studies only prove one thing for certain: But infants also stick out their tongue when engaged and excited — by music, tactile stimulation and colourful displays — making this behaviour notoriously difficult to interpret.
Their results provide decisive evidence against the idea that newborns are born with the ability to imitate. The researchers exposed infants, each in their first week of life, to a wide range of actions made by adults such as mouth opening, happy and sad expressions, or the extension of an index finger.
Across all the actions, the researchers found no evidence that infants produced matching actions more often than non-matching ones.
Once again, infants did stick out their tongues when they saw an adult doing so, but they did so at a similar rate when observing an opening mouth or a sad face, highlighting how easy it is to mistake this behaviour for imitation.
Rather than being born with an innate ability to imitate, it therefore appears that human infants actually learn to imitate. And our parents may start teaching us to imitate long before we encounter mirrors.
While newborns may not imitate their caregivers, caregivers often imitate newborns. Later in life, many of our social rituals — dancing together, team sports, sharing meals — may serve to ingrain imitative behaviours further, giving us more correlated experience of performing an action and seeing the same movements performed by others.
When playing team sports, the actions we perform are closely related to those we observe. This raises the possibility that other species may be able to acquire the capacity for imitation given the right kind of social environment.
Startling support for this view came from experiments in the early s by Michael Tomasello, who observed that chimpanzees raised in the wild are unable to imitate, while those reared by humans often acquire this ability. Controlled experiments confirm that several other species, including dogscan also learn to imitate in environments rich in regular, matching feedback provided by humans.
Instead, the new findings of Oostenbroek and colleagues suggest that cultural forces can profoundly shape our psychology. Many of the abilities that define us may not reside in our DNA, but may instead have their roots in the societies around us.Their results provide decisive evidence against the idea that newborns are born with the ability to imitate.
The researchers exposed infants, each in their first week of life, to a wide range of actions made by adults such as mouth opening, happy and sad expressions, or the extension of an index finger. For decades, there have been studies suggesting that human babies are capable of imitating facial gestures, hand gestures, facial expressions, or vocal sounds right from their first weeks of life.
Aug 27, · The young child's ability to imitate the actions of others is an important mechanism for social learning—that is, for acquiring new knowledge.
For decades, most researchers have assumed that babies are born with an innate ability to mimic the actions of people around them — facial expressions, gestures, and so on. Do people feel a discussion on babies ability to mimic facial expressions appreciated. which are apparently 3D-generated emojis which the importance of education and the other wes moore will sync with facial a discussion on babies ability to mimic facial expressions.
In another experiment, mothers showed their week-old infants expressions of happiness, sadness, and anger. In many cases, the babies responded to these expressions by copying them, mirroring back their mothers' expressions of happiness, sadness, and anger.