Group conquers efficacy: Preschoolers’ imitation under conflict between minimal group membership and behavior efficacy

Autoři: Yuanyuan Li aff001;  Yifan Liao aff001;  Yuang Cheng aff001;  Jie He aff001
Působiště autorů: Department of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China aff001
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(9)
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0223101


Research has found that preschoolers’ imitation demonstrates in-group bias and is guided by behavior efficacy. However, little is known about whether children’s sensitivity to behavior efficacy affects their in-group imitation. This study aimed to investigate preschoolers’ imitation tendency when group preference and behavior efficacy are in conflict. Participants were 4-year-old (N = 72) and 6-year-old (N = 72) preschoolers in China. They observed two demonstrators (one in-group and one out-group) pressing two different buttons, respectively, to turn on a music box, and were then asked to try it themselves. In the experimental condition, the out-group demonstrator always succeeded, whereas the in-group demonstrator failed half the time. The results showed that more 6-year-old children imitated the less-effective behaviors of the in-group demonstrator, whereas 4-year-old children showed no such inclination. Two control conditions confirmed that children chose to imitate in-group rather than out-group members (Control 1: both in-group and out-group demonstrators succeeded all four times), and could imitate according to efficacy (Control 2: two in-group demonstrators succeeded two and four times, respectively). These results indicated that 6-year-olds faithfully followed the in-group modeled behavior, regardless of behavior efficacy. Results are discussed through the social function of in-group imitative learning.

Klíčová slova:

Age groups – Behavior – Decision making – Human learning – Children – Imitation – Learning – Antisocial behavior


1. Aronson E. The social animal. 11th ed. New York: Worth; 2011.

2. Plötner M, Over H, Carpenter M, Tomasello M. The effects of collaboration and minimal-group membership on children’s prosocial behavior, liking, affiliation, and trust. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 2015;139:161–73. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2015.05.008 26112747

3. Shutts K, Banaji MR, Spelke ES. Social categories guide young children's preferences for novel objects. Developmental Science. 2010;13(4):599–610. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2009.00913.x 20590724

4. Kelly DJ, Quinn PC, Slater AM, Kang L, Ge L, Pascalis O. The Other-Race Effect Develops during Infancy: Evidence of Perceptual Narrowing. Psychological Science. 2007;18(12):1084–9. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2007.02029.x 18031416

5. Kinzler KD, Dupoux E, Spelke ES. The native language of social cognition. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2007;104(30):12577–80. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0705345104 17640881

6. Tajfel H, Billig MG, Bundy RP, Flament C. Social categorization and intergroup behaviour. European Journal of Social Psychology. 1971;1(2):149–78. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.2420010202

7. Billig M, Tajfel H. Social categorization and similarity in intergroup behaviour. European Journal of Social Psychology. 1973;3(1):27–52. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.2420030103

8. Mullen B, Brown R, Smith C. Ingroup bias as a function of salience, relevance, and status: An integration. European Journal of Social Psychology. 1992;22(2):103–22. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.2420220202

9. McAuliffe K, Dunham Y. Group bias in cooperative norm enforcement. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 2016;371(1686):20150073. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2015.0073 26644592

10. Bowles S. Group Competition, Reproductive Leveling, and the Evolution of Human Altruism. Science. 2006;314(5805):1569–72. doi: 10.1126/science.1134829 17158320

11. Wilks M, Kirby J, Nielsen M. Children imitate antisocial in-group members. Developmental Science. 2018;21(6):e12675. doi: 10.1111/desc.12675 29691975

12. Watson-Jones RE, Whitehouse H, Legare CH. In-Group Ostracism Increases High-Fidelity Imitation in Early Childhood. Psychological Science. 2016;27(1):34–42. doi: 10.1177/0956797615607205 26573906

13. Richter N, Over H, Dunham Y. The Effects of Minimal Group Membership on Young Preschoolers’ Social Preferences, Estimates of Similarity, and Behavioral Attribution. Collabra. 2016;2(1):1–8. doi: 10.1525/collabra.44

14. Dunham Y, Baron AS, Carey S. Consequences of "Minimal" Group Affiliations in Children. Child Development. 2011;82(3):793–811. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01577.x 21413937

15. Want SC, Harris PL. How do children ape? Applying concepts from the study of non-human primates to the developmental study of ‘imitation’ in children. Developmental Science. 2002;5(1):1–14. doi: 10.1111/1467-7687.00194

16. Carr K, Kendal RL, Flynn EG. Imitate or innovate? Children’s innovation is influenced by the efficacy of observed behaviour. Cognition. 2015;142:322–32. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2015.05.005 26072278

17. Kushnir T, Gopnik A. Conditional probability versus spatial contiguity in causal learning: Preschoolers use new contingency evidence to overcome prior spatial assumptions. Developmental Psychology. 2007;43(1):186–96. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.43.1.186 17201518

18. Kushnir T, Gopnik A. Young children infer causal strength from probabilities and interventions. Psychological Science. 2005;16(9):678–83. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2005.01595.x 16137252

19. Bonawitz EB, Lombrozo T. Occam's rattle: Children's use of simplicity and probability to constrain inference. Developmental Psychology. 2012;48(4):1156–64. doi: 10.1037/a0026471 22201450

20. Denison S, Bonawitz E, Gopnik A, Griffiths TL. Rational variability in children’s causal inferences: The Sampling Hypothesis. Cognition. 2013;126(2):285–300. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2012.10.010 23200511

21. Schulz LE, Bonawitz EB, Griffiths TL. Can being scared cause tummy aches? Naive theories, ambiguous evidence, and preschoolers' causal inferences. Developmental Psychology. 2007;43(5):1124–39. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.43.5.1124 17723040

22. Gopnik A, Glymour C, Sobel DM. A theory of causal learning in children: causal maps and Bayes nets. Psychological Review. 2004;111(1):3. doi: 10.1037/0033-295X.111.1.3 14756583

23. Koenig MA, Clément F, Harris PL. Trust in Testimony: Children's Use of True and False Statements. Psychological Science. 2004;15(10):694–8. doi: 10.1111/j.0956-7976.2004.00742.x 15447641

24. Birch SAJ, Vauthier SA, Bloom P. Three- and four-year-olds spontaneously use others’ past performance to guide their learning. Cognition. 2008;107(3):1018–34. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2007.12.008 18295193

25. VanderBorght M, Jaswal VK. Who knows best? Preschoolers sometimes prefer child informants over adult informants. Infant & Child Development. 2009;18(1):61–71. doi: 10.1002/icd.591 20047013

26. Williamson RA, Meltzoff AN, Markman EM. Prior experiences and perceived efficacy influence 3-year-olds' imitation. Developmental psychology. 2008;44(1):275–85. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.44.1.275 18194026

27. Williamson RA, Meltzoff AN. Own and others’ prior experiences influence children's imitation of causal acts. Cognitive Development. 2011;26(3):260–8. doi: 10.1016/j.cogdev.2011.04.002 21966091

28. Schulz LE, Hooppell C, Jenkins AC. Judicious Imitation: Children Differentially Imitate Deterministically and Probabilistically Effective Actions. Child Development. 2008;79(2):395–410. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2007.01132.x 18366430

29. Hoffman PT. Why Was It Europeans Who Conquered the World. The Journal of Economic History. 2012;72(03):601–33. doi: 10.1017/S0022050712000319

30. Lyons DE, Young AG, Keil FC. The Hidden Structure of Overimitation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2007;104(50):19751. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0704452104 18056814

31. Gruber T, Deschenaux A, Frick A, Clément F. Group Membership Influences More Social Identification Than Social Learning or Overimitation in Children. Child Development. 2017;0(0). doi: 10.1111/cdev.12931 28846135

32. Wood LA, Harrison RA, Lucas AJ, McGuigan N, Burdett ERR, Whiten A. “Model age-based” and “copy when uncertain” biases in children’s social learning of a novel task. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 2016;150:272–84. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2016.06.005 27371768

33. Wilks M, Collierbaker E, Nielsen M. Preschool children favor copying a successful individual over an unsuccessful group. Developmental Science. 2015;18(6):1014–24. doi: 10.1111/desc.12274 25529854

34. Dunham Y, Emory J. Of Affect and Ambiguity: The Emergence of Preference for Arbitrary Ingroups. Journal of Social Issues. 2014;70(1):81–98. doi: 10.1111/josi.12048

35. Howard LH, Henderson AM, Carrazza C, Woodward AL. Infants' and Young Children's Imitation of Linguistic In-Group and Out-Group Informants. Child Development. 2015;86(1):259. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12299 25263528

36. Whiten A, McGuigan N, Marshall-Pescini S, Hopper LM. Emulation, imitation, over-imitation and the scope of culture for child and chimpanzee. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 2009;364(1528):2417–28. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2009.0069 19620112

37. Frick A, Clément F, Gruber T. Evidence for a sex effect during overimitation: boys copy irrelevant modelled actions more than girls across cultures. Royal Society Open Science. 2017;4(12):170367. doi: 10.1098/rsos.170367 29308216

38. Legare CH, Nielsen M. Imitation and Innovation: The Dual Engines of Cultural Learning. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 2015;19(11):688–99. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2015.08.005 26440121

39. Chartrand TL, Lakin JL. The Antecedents and Consequences of Human Behavioral Mimicry. Annual Review of Psychology. 2013;64(1):285–308. doi: 10.1146/annurev-psych-113011-143754 23020640

40. Cordonier L, Nettles T, Rochat P. Strong and strategic conformity understanding by 3‐ and 5‐year‐old children. British Journal of Development Psychology. 2018;36(3):438–51. doi: 10.1111/bjdp.12229 29265381

41. Yu Y, Kushnir T. Social context effects in 2- and 4-year-olds’ selective versus faithful imitation. Developmental Psychology. 2014;50(3):922–33. doi: 10.1037/a0034242 23978298

42. Chudek M, Baron AS, Birch S. Unselective Overimitators: The Evolutionary Implications of Children's Indiscriminate Copying of Successful and Prestigious Models. Child Development. 2016;87(3):782–94. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12529 27189405

43. Buttelmann D, Bohm R. The Ontogeny of the Motivation That Underlies In-Group Bias. Psychological Science. 2014;25(4):921–7. doi: 10.1177/0956797613516802 24474724

Článek vyšel v časopise


2019 Číslo 9

Nejčtenější v tomto čísle

Tomuto tématu se dále věnují…


Zvyšte si kvalifikaci online z pohodlí domova

Krvácení v důsledku portální hypertenze při jaterní cirhóze – od pohledu záchranné služby až po závěrečný hepato-gastroenterologický pohled
nový kurz
Autoři: PhDr. Petr Jaššo, MBA, MUDr. Hynek Fiala, Ph.D., prof. MUDr. Radan Brůha, CSc., MUDr. Tomáš Fejfar, Ph.D., MUDr. David Astapenko, Ph.D., prof. MUDr. Vladimír Černý, Ph.D.

Rozšíření možností lokální terapie atopické dermatitidy v ordinaci praktického lékaře či alergologa
Autoři: MUDr. Nina Benáková, Ph.D.

Léčba bolesti v ordinaci praktického lékaře
Autoři: MUDr. PhDr. Zdeňka Nováková, Ph.D.

Revmatoidní artritida: včas a k cíli
Autoři: MUDr. Heřman Mann

Jistoty a nástrahy antikoagulační léčby aneb kardiolog - neurolog - farmakolog - nefrolog - právník diskutují
Autoři: doc. MUDr. Štěpán Havránek, Ph.D., prof. MUDr. Roman Herzig, Ph.D., doc. MUDr. Karel Urbánek, Ph.D., prim. MUDr. Jan Vachek, MUDr. et Mgr. Jolana Těšínová, Ph.D.

Všechny kurzy
Kurzy Doporučená témata Časopisy
Zapomenuté heslo

Nemáte účet?  Registrujte se

Zapomenuté heslo

Zadejte e-mailovou adresu se kterou jste vytvářel(a) účet, budou Vám na ni zaslány informace k nastavení nového hesla.


Nemáte účet?  Registrujte se