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Title: Social influence and social learning in young children and infants
Author: Over, Harriet
ISNI:       0000 0004 2748 3110
Awarding Body: Cardiff University
Current Institution: Cardiff University
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis examines the motivations underlying social influence and behaviour matching in young children. In my General Introduction, I argue that, in adults, behaviour matching is often motivated by goals to learn from and affiliate with other group members (or by a combination of these two factors). In addition to explicit forms of behaviour matching, however, adults also subconsciously assimilate their behaviour to those around them. I argue that imitation in young children may be similarly motivated by goals to learn from and affiliate with others. In other words, that imitation performs an instrumental and a social function in development. Further, I argue that young children may also subconsciously assimilate their behaviour to those around them. The following experimental chapters test aspects of these claims. Chapter 2 investigates verbal imitation. Focusing on the instrumental aspects of this ability, I test whether young children copy the perceived intentions behind speech. Results show that children correct the ungrammatical utterances of an intentional model, but copy the utterances of a non-intentional model exactly. Chapter 3 investigates social imitation. In that chapter, I test whether children increase their imitation when they have a goal to affiliate. Results show that children who have been given a goal to affiliate (through priming with social exclusion) copy the actions of a model significantly more closely than children who have been given a neutral prime. Chapter 4 investigates unintentional, or subconscious, behaviour matching and tests whether even infants assimilate their behaviour to social primes. Results show that infants primed with affiliation are significantly more likely to help an experimenter than infants primed with individuality. Taken together, these experiments demonstrate that behaviour matching is a diverse and important phenomenon in development. It occurs both intentionally and unintentionally, and enables children to learn from and affiliate with those around them.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available