Experimental “Microcultures” in Young Children: Identifying Biographic, Cognitive, and Social Predictors of Information Transmission


concerning this article should be addressed to Emma Flynn, Department of Psychology, Durham University, Durham DH1 3LE, UK. Electronic mail may be sent to e.g.flynn@durham.ac.uk.


In one of the first open diffusion experiments with young children, a tool-use task that afforded multiple methods to extract an enclosed reward and a child model habitually using one of these methods were introduced into different playgroups. Eighty-eight children, ranging in age from 2 years 8 months to 4 years 5 months, participated. Measures were taken of how alternative methods and success in extracting rewards spread across the different groups. Additionally, the biographic, social, cognitive, and temperamental predictors of social learning were investigated. Variations in social learning were related to age, popularity, dominance, impulsivity, and shyness, while other factors such as sex, theory of mind, verbal ability, and even imitativeness showed little association with variance in children’s information acquisition.