Children’s social learning: KuLe-Kinder

The project KuLe-Kinder (cultural learning in young children and infants) is conducted by Angelique Eydam within the Munich Node of TESIS. The research supervisor is Erika Nurmsoo (Child Development Unit, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK).

Intersubjectivity and embodied use of objects in young children’s social learning – a comparison of typically developing children and children with psychosomatic disorders/behavioural problems

The cross generational transmission of knowledge is supported by the ability to learn from others. But especially cultural knowledge is often ‘cognitively opaque’, i.e. the reasons for a certain action are non-obvious. Therefore, faithful imitation is a helpful means of learning cultural practices.

In their theory of Natural Pedagogy, Csibra and Gergely (2006, 2009; Gergely & Csibra, in press) propose that early imitation is supported by a pedagogical stance. Upon taking this stance, infants are particularly motivated to learn generalizable cultural knowledge. The stance is attained by receiving pedagogical cues, such as eye contact and use of the child’s name as ostensive cues, as well as pointing as a referential cue.

Our research so far shows that children imitate differentially depending on the experience a child has with the experimenter, use of pedagogical cues, and use of objects, i.e. whether a tool or the body was used for the action. Eighteen-month-olds also emulated body and tool actions differentially (Eydam, Leahy, & Nurmsoo, 2012).

My aim for TESIS is to further pursue this research:

  1. To conduct a literature review on young children’s imitation, emulation und exploration behaviour as a function of context and use of objects.
  2. To explore influence of methodology in imitation studies, e.g. experience with researcher and objects, nature of stimuli, length of delay, etc.
  3. To investigate differences in imitation, emulation and exploration behaviour between typically developing children and children with psychosomatic disorders or behavioural problems.

For more information on the project please also visit the KuLe-Kinder webpage or KuLe-Kinder on Facebook (in German).

Karlchen KuLe-Kinder