Six-month-old infants understand when adults are imitating them and are more friendly imitators, reported in the journal PLoS One. Children longer smile to those adults who are copying their movements, and the more I look at them, than those who react to the actions of infants in other ways.
Imitation plays an important role in the first year of a child’s life. Imitating their parents and others, children develop fine motor skills, learning to speak and learn many other skills. However, the reverse process can be equally important for babies: psychologists suggest that adults, by copying the actions of the child, help him to understand the cultural and social norms, as well as contribute to the development of self-awareness and understanding the intentions of others. In addition, it is believed that joint action is accompanied by a General feelings and intentions, but empirical data confirming such hypotheses are almost absent.
A group of psychologists under the guidance of Gabriela-Alina Sawchuk (Gabriela-Alina Sauciuc) from the Lund University made an experiment with the participation of 16 six-month-old infants. The researchers played with the kids, or copying their behavior fully or only simulating the movement, but not facial expressions or responding to their actions other actions — so do many parents react to the child’s actions according to the situation. The whole process was recorded on video, and after the scientists analyzed the reactions of the subjects.
It was found that infants looked longer at the experimenter and smiled at them when they completely copied their behavior and often tried to approach him. In addition, children are often “tested” by psychologists: for example, if the researcher followed the child beat his hand upon the table, the child then repeated this action a few more times. This, according to the authors, may indicate that infants know that adults imitate their gestures as a “check” usually suggests that the person is aware of the connection between own behavior and the behavior of another.