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Title: Unravelling factors of faithful imitation throughout childhood
Author: March, Joshua Jordan
ISNI:       0000 0004 6499 3654
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 2017
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The following thesis examines factors that affect children’s imitation, and presents evidence that imitation is a composite ability which involves multiple mechanisms developing throughout childhood. In Chapter 1 previous findings are reviewed to highlight the mechanisms underlying the ability to reproduce other people’s actions. The evidence suggests that imitation, whilst based on basic action control mechanisms in infancy, is also affected by higher-order cognitive processes in later childhood. Previous literature is still unclear on how the influence of such processes changes at different ages. Chapter 2 used a successive-models task with children aged 2 to 12 years to reveal how children’s imitation changes with age. Results showed that whilst children under the age of 5 years did not imitate deviant models as much as the first model, children above the age of 6 years begin to copy multiple models faithfully, particularly after the age of 10 years. Chapter 3 investigated the role of multiple factors that may have made children under the age of 5 years imitate deviant models less than the original model. In particular, it was found that model evaluations, object associations, and motor inhibitory skills all affect children’s imitation of multiple models. These findings support the interpretation that imitation requires different abilities depending on the type of action that is being imitated. Chapter 4 shows that children’s imitation also depends on the type of goal that they associate with the action. By pre-school age children will imitate actions faithfully if they believe that the goal of the action was the movement itself. The results of the thesis support the idea that imitation, while involving general processes of action control, is also affected in a top-down manner by higher-order cognitive abilities after infancy.
Supervisor: Rafetseder, Eva ; Doherty, Martin ; Caldwell, Christine Sponsor: University of Stirling
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: imitation ; children ; age ; overimitation ; normativity ; goals ; intentions ; model identity ; Imitation in children ; Cognition in children ; Developmental psychology