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


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