Investigating children as cultural magnets: Do young children transmit redundant information along diffusion chains?

Emma Flynn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The primary goal of this study was to investigate cultural transmission in young children, with specific reference to the phenomenon of overimitation. Diffusion chains were used to compare the imitation of 2- and 3-year-olds on a task in which the initial child in each chain performed a series of relevant and irrelevant actions on a puzzle box in order to retrieve a reward. Children in the chains witnessed the actions performed on one of two boxes, one which was transparent and so the lack of causality of the irrelevant actions was obvious, while the other was opaque and so the lack of causal relevance was not obvious. Unlike previous dyadic research in which children overimitate a model, the irrelevant actions were parsed out early in the diffusion chains. Even though children parsed out irrelevant actions, they showed fidelity to the method used to perform a relevant action both within dyads and across groups. This was true of 3-year-olds, and also 2-year-olds, therefore extending findings from previous research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3541-3551
Number of pages11
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume363
Issue number1509
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Nov 2008
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Children
  • Culture
  • Emulation
  • Imitation
  • Overimitation
  • Social learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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