Imitation of Gestures in Children is Goal-directed

Authors: Bekkering, Harold; Wohlschlager, Andreas; Gattis, Merideth

Source: The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology A, 1 February 2000, vol. 53, no. 1, pp. 153-164(12)


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The view that the motor program activated during imitation is organized by goals was investigated by asking pre-school children to imitate a set of hand gestures of varying complexity that were made by an experimenter sitting in front of them. In Experiments 1 and 3, children reached for the correct object (one of their own ears or one of two dots on a table) but preferred to use the ipsilateral hand. This ipsilateral preference was not observed when hand movements were made to only one ear (Experiment 2), or when movements were diercted at space rather than physical objects (Experiment 3). The results are consistent with the notion that imitation is guided by goals and provide insights about how these goals are organized.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: February 1, 2000

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