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Rethinking ‘rational imitation’ in 14-month-old infants: a perceptual distraction approach


Beisert, M; Zmyj, N; Liepelt, R; Jung, F; Prinz, W; Daum, Moritz M (2012). Rethinking ‘rational imitation’ in 14-month-old infants: a perceptual distraction approach. PLoS ONE, 7(3):e32563.

Abstract

In their widely noticed study, Gergely, Bekkering, and Király (2002) showed that 14-month-old infants imitated an unusual action only if the model freely chose to perform this action and not if the choice of the action could be ascribed to external constraints. They attributed this kind of selective imitation to the infants' capacity of understanding the principle of rational action. In the current paper, we present evidence that a simpler approach of perceptual distraction may be more appropriate to explain their results. When we manipulated the saliency of context stimuli in the two original conditions, the results were exactly opposite to what rational imitation predicts. Based on these findings, we reject the claim that the notion of rational action plays a key role in selective imitation in 14-month-olds.

Abstract

In their widely noticed study, Gergely, Bekkering, and Király (2002) showed that 14-month-old infants imitated an unusual action only if the model freely chose to perform this action and not if the choice of the action could be ascribed to external constraints. They attributed this kind of selective imitation to the infants' capacity of understanding the principle of rational action. In the current paper, we present evidence that a simpler approach of perceptual distraction may be more appropriate to explain their results. When we manipulated the saliency of context stimuli in the two original conditions, the results were exactly opposite to what rational imitation predicts. Based on these findings, we reject the claim that the notion of rational action plays a key role in selective imitation in 14-month-olds.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:2012
Deposited On:17 Dec 2012 10:11
Last Modified:04 Aug 2017 15:11
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Series Name:PLoS ONE
ISSN:1932-6203
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0032563
PubMed ID:22431977

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