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Preschoolers' use of intentionality in understanding causal structure of objects during imitation learning

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Date Issued:
2011
Summary:
Object use is a ubiquitous characteristic of the human species, and learning how objects function is a fundamental part of human development. This research examines the role that intentionality plays in children's understanding of causal relationships during imitation learning of object use. In Studies 1, 2, and 3, 2- to 5-year-olds observed demonstrations in which causally irrelevant and causally relevant actions were performed to achieve a desired goal of retrieving toys from within containers. Irrelevant actions were performed either intentionally ("There!") or accidentally ("Whoops! I didn't mean to do that!"). Study 1 found that 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds, but not 2-year-olds, were less likely to imitate causally irrelevant actions performed accidentally than those performed intentionally. This suggests that older children used intentionality to guide causal inference, perceiving intentional actions as causally effective and accidental actions as causally ineffective. Study 2 foun d that the intentionality of the demonstrator's actions had an enduring effect - after watching a single demonstration, children persisted in performing intentional irrelevant actions and continued to ignore accidental irrelevant actions when given three successive opportunities to complete the task. Study 3 examined how lack of knowledge about the task goal prior to the demonstrations affected imitation and found that children without explicit verbal instruction of the toy-retrieval goal imitated irrelevant actions to a greater degree than children from Study 1, who were informed of the goal throughout the experiment. Study 4 progressed beyond irrelevant actions to investigate the effect of intentionality on 3- to 5-year-olds' imitation of relevant actions.
Title: Preschoolers' use of intentionality in understanding causal structure of objects during imitation learning.
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Name(s): Gardiner, Amy K.
Charles E. Schmidt College of Science
Department of Psychology
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Electronic Thesis Or Dissertation
Date Issued: 2011
Publisher: Florida Atlantic University
Physical Form: electronic
Extent: ix, 100 p. : ill. (some col.)
Language(s): English
Summary: Object use is a ubiquitous characteristic of the human species, and learning how objects function is a fundamental part of human development. This research examines the role that intentionality plays in children's understanding of causal relationships during imitation learning of object use. In Studies 1, 2, and 3, 2- to 5-year-olds observed demonstrations in which causally irrelevant and causally relevant actions were performed to achieve a desired goal of retrieving toys from within containers. Irrelevant actions were performed either intentionally ("There!") or accidentally ("Whoops! I didn't mean to do that!"). Study 1 found that 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds, but not 2-year-olds, were less likely to imitate causally irrelevant actions performed accidentally than those performed intentionally. This suggests that older children used intentionality to guide causal inference, perceiving intentional actions as causally effective and accidental actions as causally ineffective. Study 2 foun d that the intentionality of the demonstrator's actions had an enduring effect - after watching a single demonstration, children persisted in performing intentional irrelevant actions and continued to ignore accidental irrelevant actions when given three successive opportunities to complete the task. Study 3 examined how lack of knowledge about the task goal prior to the demonstrations affected imitation and found that children without explicit verbal instruction of the toy-retrieval goal imitated irrelevant actions to a greater degree than children from Study 1, who were informed of the goal throughout the experiment. Study 4 progressed beyond irrelevant actions to investigate the effect of intentionality on 3- to 5-year-olds' imitation of relevant actions.
Summary: Inconsistency was created between the intentionality with which relevant actions were demonstrated and the causal necessity of these actions for the child's turn. Relevancy emerged as the paramount factor in study 4 - regardless of the intentionality with which relevant actions were demonstrated, children imitated these actions if they remained relevant and largely ignored them if they were rendered irrelevant. Findings are placed within a pedagogical framework and discussed from an evolutionary perspective in relation to the cultural transmission of tool-use knowledge.
Identifier: 751985598 (oclc), 3183126 (digitool), FADT3183126 (IID), fau:3706 (fedora)
Note(s): by Amy K. Gardiner.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Florida Atlantic University, 2011.
Includes bibliography.
Electronic reproduction. Boca Raton, Fla., 2011. Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Subject(s): Learning, Psychology of
Developmental psychology
Educational tests and measurements
Constructivism (Education)
Persistent Link to This Record: http://purl.flvc.org/FAU/3183126
Use and Reproduction: http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC/1.0/
Host Institution: FAU