Harriet Over, Department for Developmental and Comparative Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology; Malinda Carpenter, Department for Developmental and Comparative Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
The Social Side of Imitation
Article first published online: 8 NOV 2012
© 2012 The Authors. Child Development Perspectives © 2012 The Society for Research in Child Development
Child Development Perspectives
Volume 7, Issue 1, pages 6–11, March 2013
How to Cite
Over, H. and Carpenter, M. (2013), The Social Side of Imitation. Child Development Perspectives, 7: 6–11. doi: 10.1111/cdep.12006
- Issue published online: 12 FEB 2013
- Article first published online: 8 NOV 2012
- group membership;
- social pressure
Children's imitation is a profoundly social process. Although previous developmental accounts of imitation have focused on imitation as a way to learn from others, the current article stresses that imitation goes far beyond this: It is often intimately tied to children's need to belong to the group and their drive to affiliate with those around them. Accordingly, imitation is chiefly determined by the social motivations and pressures children experience within both interpersonal and intergroup settings. This perspective resolves an apparent paradox in the empirical literature, explaining why children sometimes copy selectively and sometimes copy faithfully (so-called overimitation). It also situates the developmental and comparative study of imitation and cultural transmission within a broader social-psychological framework, uniting it conceptually with research on mimicry, conformity, normativity, and group membership.