Re: Associative learning versus imitation - JoM Article

Mon, 19 Oct 1998 15:34:38 -0400 (EDT)

Subject: Re: Associative learning versus imitation - JoM Article
Date: Mon, 19 Oct 1998 15:34:38 -0400 (EDT)

> > Mario Vaneechoutte wrote:
> >
> > > Let us agree that humans are much better in this. Then the question boils down
> > > to: from what age on do babies imitate visually observable events?

and Bill replied:

> >
> > >From birth. I don't have references immediately at hand, but the observations are
> > quite well-known (Metzler is the name to search for). Look at a neonate and stick
> > our your tongue or flutter your eyelashes. She'll imitate you.

Mario then asked:

> Do we have the same interpretation problems than as we have with animals with regard to
> the question whether this is imitation or not?

I'd say not because the baby's behaviour is:

a) an astoundingly accurate copy - there's no way you could get a chimp
or dog to immediately 'copy' an eye flutter and tongue wiggle.

b) there is no reinforcement to the baby (unless....... a positive
reaction from the adult is the reinforcement.......)

So, I'd say the immedaicy and accuracy of the duplication of behaviour
must be a clear indicator of imitation. Goodall's example of the
bottom-wiping juvenile chimp is almost as good as this one.


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