Article Review: Prior Experience and Perceived Efficacy Influence 3-Year-Olds' Imitation

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Critical Summary

The purpose of the study on prior experience and perceived efficacy in three-year-old children was to show through empirical evidence that children are able to perform tasks using their previous experience as well as imitation. Children are not simply duplicating the acts involved in performing the task. They perceive the goal of the task and use intelligence to determine how and when to duplicate a model's actions to perform the goal.

The hypothesis before the study began was that prior experience would be an important factor in determining whether a child would adopt the means used by a model in the performance of a task. If their own means achieved the desired goal, they would be less likely to adopt the precise means used by the model. If they were unable to perform the goal through their own means, or had a difficult time, they would be more apt to imitate someone else's successful attempt.

The study was performed in a laboratory setting with an empirical and quantitative methodology. The participants were three-year-old children that were chosen from a university preschool. The children were chosen solely for their age. Their socioeconomic status (being from middle-class to upper-class families) and their race, sex, or ethnicity were not factors in the experiments. The study involved three experiments. Each of these experiments built upon the previous one in order to retrieve the data necessary to support the hypothesis.

Experiment 1 included 24 children that were randomly divided into two groups. The first group was the easy-experience group. This group would be able to achieve their goals easily. The second, the difficult-experience group, would have a much harder experience. This experiment al...

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... the article may be more readable if it was more concise. The general discussion section included too many references to others' research. This clouded the discussion concerning this specific study. It made it more difficult to gather information on the authors' ideas concerning their own research results. The authors' noted that their research may help in understanding the problem of autistic children with imitation or ethological research concerning non-primates' imitation process. This indicates that, although the researchers' had a clear hypothesis, they did not have a clear goal as to why this study would be important to developmental psychology.

Works Cited

Williamson, R.A., Meltzoff, A.N., Markman, E.M. (2008). Prior experience and perceived efficacy influence 3-year-olds' imitation. Developmental Psychology, 44 (1), 275-285. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.44.1.275
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