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Title: Imitation and the active child
Author: Hilbrink, Elma
ISNI:       0000 0004 2731 8318
Awarding Body: Cardiff University
Current Institution: Cardiff University
Date of Award: 2011
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The central topic of this thesis is the role of individual differences in the development of imitation. The main claim of the thesis is that individual differences reflect infants’ active involvement in their own developmental process. The thesis utilizes a combination of experimental and parent report data to demonstrate the manifold nature of the origins of imitation. Chapter one introduces the topic of individual differences in imitation by reviewing, in the first part of the chapter, the literature on imitation during the first 18 months of life, and the literature on the role of temperament in social-cognitive development, in the second part of the chapter. Furthermore, the open questions concerning the role of individual differences and the infants’ active involvement in the development of imitation are discussed. Chapter two studies the relation between attentional preferences and individual differences in imitation of facial and vocal models in the first few months of life. Thus far studies of early imitation have dismissed individual differences as noise, therefore not much is known about the role of individual differences in imitation. The findings demonstrate that attentional preferences as measured with the Infant Behaviour Questionnaire-Revised (Gartstein & Rothbart, 2003) are related to specific differences in imitation. Furthermore the findings demonstrate that the major theoretical accounts of imitation are not sufficient to explain these results and a new theoretical model is proposed. In chapter three the infant’s active involvement in its own developmental process is studied by assessing the role of spontaneous imitation in the development of imitation of actions on objects during the first year of life. I demonstrate that infants’ own initiative to imitate actions on objects is the most important predictor of the observed increase in imitation of actions on objects around 10- to12- months of age. V Chapter four assesses the role of infant sociability in imitation. In particular, it examines the hypothesis that sociability is related to faithful, but not selective, imitation. The findings demonstrate a positive link between sociability, as measured by the surgency scale of the Early Childhood Behaviour Questionnaire (Putnam, Gartstein & Rothbart, 2006), and faithful imitation. Finally, in the general conclusion I will argue that the two current dominant accounts of imitation, i.e. an innate account and a learning account, do not account for these results, and I will propose an alternative theoretical model that does account for these findings.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BF Psychology