High-fidelity copying is critical to the acquisition of culture. However, young children's high-fidelity imitation can result in overimitation, the copying of instrumentally irrelevant actions.We present a series of studies investigating whether adults too overimitate. Experiment 1 found that adults do overimitate, even when evaluation pressures were reduced (Experiment 2) and when participants were faced with a time pressure involving a monetary reward (Experiment 3). Only when participants were presented with a demonstration by someone they believed to be a fellow participant (Experiment 4) did less than half of them overimitate. Thus, overimitation appears to be a robust, adaptive process allowing the acquisition of new information in unfamiliar settings.
- Cultural evolution
- Observational learning
- Social learning
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Sociology and Political Science