Carr, K. and Kendal, R.L. and Flynn, E.G. (2015) 'Imitate or innovate? Children’s innovation is influenced by the efficacy of observed behaviour.', Cognition., 142 . pp. 322-332.
This study investigated the age at which children judge it futile to imitate unreliable information, in the form of a visibly ineffective demonstrated solution, and deviate to produce novel solutions (‘innovations’). Children aged 4–9 years were presented with a novel puzzle box, the Multiple-Methods Box (MMB), which offered multiple innovation opportunities to extract a reward using different tools, access points and exits. 209 children were assigned to conditions in which eight social demonstrations of a reward retrieval method were provided; each condition differed incrementally in terms of the method’s efficacy (0%, 25%, 75%, and 100% success at extracting the reward). An additional 47 children were assigned to a no-demonstration control condition. Innovative reward extractions from the MMB increased with decreasing efficacy of the demonstrated method. However, imitation remained a widely used strategy irrespective of the efficacy of the method being reproduced (90% of children produced at least one imitative attempt, and imitated on an average of 4.9 out of 8 attempt trials). Children were more likely to innovate in relation to the tool than exit, even though the latter would have been more effective. Overall, innovation was rare: only 12.4% of children innovated by discovering at least one novel reward exit. Children’s prioritisation of social information is consistent with theories of cultural evolution indicating imitation is a prepotent response following observation of behaviour, and that innovation is a rarity; so much so, that even maladaptive behaviour is copied.
|Keywords:||Innovation, Behaviour efficacy, Imitation, Selective social learning, Asocial learning, Trade-offs.|
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|Publisher Web site:||http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2015.05.005|
|Publisher statement:||© 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).|
|Record Created:||11 May 2015 10:50|
|Last Modified:||12 Jun 2015 09:29|
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