Do not babies imitate us?

Even in their first weeks of life, babies begin to imitate the sounds, gestures, and expressions of other people - at least in the past few decades, numerous studies point to this. Other studies, on the other hand, failed to detect such abilities in toddlers and cast doubt on the results. Scientists led by Virginia Slaughter from the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, once again put the test to the test - and also concluded that babies are apparently not born imitators.

The scientists believe that the hitherto contradictory results are largely due to the fact that researchers in many studies merely tested whether children would pry up their mouths or open their mouths if their parents fooled them. But such behavior could simply be a reaction to mom or dad doing something interesting. Slaughter and her team then gave 106 toddlers the equivalent of eleven different gestures or facial expressions for comparison, and looked at children one, two, six, or nine weeks to see if the children were mimicking them. The researchers discovered that it did not matter what the parents showed their babies - they did not give it up more often, the chance of doing something completely different was just as great. This suggests in Slaughters eyes that babies have to learn to imitate by watching others imitate them - or even to be imitated themselves. Parents would imitate their children about every two minutes at the beginning, according to the researcher. Next, she wants to accompany young subjects in a similar study to the age of two, to find out exactly when they start copying others.

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