The influence of model status on the tendency of young children to over-imitate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


The current study aimed to integrate the trust and over-imitation literatures by allowing groups of 5-year-old children to view one of four adult models, differing in their level of status (high or low), retrieve a reward from inside a transparent puzzle box. Each of the models performed a sequence of tool actions on the box before retrieving the reward. These actions varied according to their causal necessity, with some of the actions being causally necessary for reward retrieval and others being causally irrelevant. The results suggest that young children are selective copiers, reproducing the irrelevant tool actions most frequently after having viewed the high-status models. It is suggested that this bias toward rank-ordered copying is likely to be a strategy favored by natural selection because the behaviors displayed by high-status individuals are often the behaviors that are locally adaptive and may, by extension, provide copiers with a selective advantage within their environment. (C) 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)962-969
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Social learning, Over-imitation, Trust, High-status model, Low-status model, Rank-ordered copying, SELECTIVE TRUST, TRANSMISSION, OVERIMITATION, PERFORMANCE, PRESTIGE, CULTURE, ADULTS, AGE


Dive into the research topics of 'The influence of model status on the tendency of young children to over-imitate'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this