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James W. Pennebaker, Chair The University of Texas at Austin, SEA 4.212, Austin, TX 78712 • (512) 475-7596

Expectations for conformity: A cross-cultural examination of children’s imitation

Fri, April 11, 2014 • 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM • SEA 1.332 Hakes Library

Cognitive Science Area Meeting

Speaker: Jennifer Clegg, Graduate Student, Department of Psychology, UT Austin

Despite experimental (Call et al., 2005; Carpenter et al., 2002; Gleissner et al., 2000; Lyons et al., 2007; Whiten et al., 2009) and ethnographic research on imitation in the context of skill-based or instrumental learning (Lancy, Bock, & Gaskins, 2010; Rogoff, 2003) there has not yet been a systematic cross-cultural account of imitative behavior in the context of learning cultural conventions. Research conducted by Dr. Cristine Legare and colleagues suggests that the causal opacity associated with conventions results in high fidelity copying due to the activation of a ritual stance (supports imitation) in contrast to an instrumental stance (supports innovation) (Herrmann et al., 2013). The present study examines ritual and instrumental learning using a novel craft-making task in two different cultural settings – the U.S. and Vanuatu, a Melanesian island nation. This research addresses a significant gap in the current literature, as much of the work on the development of social learning has been conducted in Western settings (Nielsen & Tomaselli, 2010).


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