The Language Development Research Team Essay

The Language Development Research Team Essay

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Statement of the Problem
The project that the language development research team and I are currently working on is children’s demonstration of imitation to different audiences. The purpose of our study is to investigate children’s tendency to overly imitate others’ actions with observed unnecessary and irrelevant components included in their actions. Because children are surrounded by objects that they must learn to use, one of the most efficient approaches children do this is by imitation (Nielsen & Tomaselli, 2010). In contrast to nonhuman primates, human children focus more on reproducing the specific actions used than on achieving actual outcomes when learning by imitating (Nielsen & Tomaselli, 2010). Starting from 18 months of age, children will routinely copy even arbitrary and unnecessary actions, and this puzzling behavior is called overimitation (Nielsen & Tomaselli, 2010).
But why does overimitation occur? There are several explanations for it. According to Lyons, Damrosch, Lin, Macris, and Keil (2011), when children observe an adult intentionally demonstrating on a novel object, they may automatically encode all of the actions as causally meaningful. In certain situations that adults include unnecessary actions in intentional demonstrations, children would still show persistent overimitation (Lyons et al., 2011). Another explanation for overimitation is that children are ignorant of the unnecessary actions’ purposes, so they decide that it is normative to carry all of the steps out (Kenward, Karlsson, & Persson, 2011).
Other research studies also suggest that a variety of factors influence children’s tendency to overimitate. According to McGuigan, Makinson, and Whiten (2011), copying of irrelevant actions increases ...

... middle of paper ... a series of irrelevant actions when demonstrating, without saying anything that indicated that the actions were unnecessary. For the tree, the experimenter inserted the red wooden stick into the bottom of each block and spun the block before putting it on the construction. For the green puzzle box, the experimenter first lifted the white cloth flap without looking into the box in an observable and evident manner, and then knocked at the small door on the upper box for 3 times before opening the door with the doorknob to get the toy. For the house, the experimenter tapped each block on his/her forehead naturally before adding each block to the construction. For the blue puzzle box, the experimenter picked up the yellow wooden stick placed on the hooks of the bottom box and tapped it on the top of the box for 3 times before lifting the mesh to retrieve the toy.

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