Imitative Behavior as a Function of Success-Failure and Racial-Socioeconomic Factors1


  • 1

    The study is based on the master's thesis of the first author, who was a predoctoral fellow supported in part by United States Health Service Grant MH08924. Appreciation is expressed to Mr. Thomas Harris, superintendent of Oglethorpe County Schools, and Mr. M. A. Guill, superintendent of Wilkes County Schools for making this study possible. Appreciation is also expressed to Mr. Jim Morenthaler for his assistance in data collection.


This study examined whether success-failure experiences, race, and social class are related to the likelihood that young children will engage in imitative behavior. Black subjects imitated significantly more than white subjects on a pre-experimental measure of imitation. Analysis of a difference score between pre- and post-experimental measures of imitation indicated that prior success was associated with less imitation than failure or a neutral condition. In addition, a white model was imitated significantly more than a black model in both the failure and the success conditions, with little difference between models in the neutral condition. No significant difference was found between the nondeprived and deprived groups. The results were discussed in terms of an outer-directedness hypothesis.