The development of selective copying: children’s learning from an expert versus their mother
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This study tested the prediction that, with age, children should rely less on familiarity and more on expertise in their selective social learning. Experiment 1 (N=50) found that 5- to 6-year-olds copied the technique their mother used to extract a prize from a novel puzzle box, in preference to both a stranger and an established expert. This bias occurred despite children acknowledging the expert model’s superior capability. Experiment 2 (N=50) demonstrated a shift in 7-to 8-year-olds towards copying the expert. Children aged 9- to 10-years did not copy according to a model bias. The findings of a follow-up study (N=30) confirmed that, instead, they prioritized their own – partially flawed – causal understanding of the puzzle box.
Lucas A.J. et al. 2016. The development of selective copying: children’s learning from an expert versus their mother. Child Development. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12711