Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning

2012 Edition
| Editors: Norbert M. Seel

Imitation: Definitions, Evidence, and Mechanisms

  • Thomas R. Zentall
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1428-6_596

Synonyms

Definition

Imitation involves the copying of an otherwise improbable response demonstrated by another individual that cannot be attributed to (a) contagion (e.g., flocking, mobbing, yawning, laughing), (b) social facilitation (the mere presence of another), (c) local or stimulus enhancement (attention drawn to a place or object by the sight of a conspecific at that place or interacting with that object), or (d) emulation, learned affordances, or object movement reenactment (learning how the environment works).

Theoretical Background

Social learning, the ability of animals to learn from observing the behavior of others, would appear to have adaptive value because it reduces the likelihood of experiencing the negative consequences of trial and error learning. There are various kinds of social learning, the most theoretically interesting of which is imitation – and especially a form of imitation in which the imitated response by...

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References

  1. Akins, C. K., & Zentall, T. R. (1996). Imitative learning in male Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) using the two- action method. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 110, 316–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Akins, C. K., & Zentall, T. R. (1998). Imitation in Japanese quail: The role of reinforcement of demonstrator responding. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 5, 694–697.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bandura, A. (1969). Social learning theory of identificatory processes. In D. A. Goslin (Ed.), Handbook of socialization theory and research (pp. 213–262). Chicago: Rand-McNally.Google Scholar
  4. Dorrance, B. R., & Zentall, T. R. (2001). Imitative learning in Japanese quail depends on the motivational state of the observer at the time of observation. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 115, 62–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Nguyen, N. H., Klein, E. D., & Zentall, T. R. (2005). Imitation of two-action sequences by pigeons. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 12, 514–518.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Piaget, J. (1962). Play, dreams, and imitation in childhood (Trans: Gallegno, C. & Hodgson, F. M. ). New York: Norton.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA