Scientific article
Open access

Carry-over effects of tool functionality and previous unsuccessfulness increase overimitation in children

Published inRoyal Society open science, vol. 8, no. 7, 201373
Publication date2021-07-07
First online date2021-07-07

Children ‘overimitate' causally irrelevant actions in experiments where both irrelevant and relevant actions involve a single common tool. This study design may make it harder for children to recognize the irrelevant actions, as the perceived functionality of the tool during the demonstration of the relevant action may be carried over to the irrelevant action, potentially increasing overimitation. Moreover, little is known how overimitation is affected by the demonstrator's expressed emotions and the child's prior success with the task. Here, 131 nine- to ten-year-old French and German children first engaged in a tool-based task, being successful or unsuccessful, and then watched an adult demonstrating the solution involving one irrelevant and one relevant action before smiling or remaining neutral. These actions were performed with the same tool or with two separate tools, testing potential carry-over effects of the functionality of the relevant action on the irrelevant action. We show that overimitation was higher when the same tool was used for both actions and when children were previously unsuccessful, but was not affected by the demonstrator's displayed emotion. Our results suggest that future overimitation research should account for the number of tools used in a demonstration and participants' previous task experience.

  • Overimitation
  • Previous success
  • Social learning
  • Tool functionality
Citation (ISO format)
FRICK, Aurélien et al. Carry-over effects of tool functionality and previous unsuccessfulness increase overimitation in children. In: Royal Society open science, 2021, vol. 8, n° 7, p. 201373. doi: 10.1098/rsos.201373
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal2054-5703

Technical informations

Creation10/10/2021 10:16:00 AM
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