Over-imitation, trial-and-error learning and the inter-generational transmission of information (2011–2013)
Revelations that children will copy all of an adult's object-directed actions, including clearly irrelevant ones, have added to speculation that the development of human culture is dependent on imitation. However, such speculation ignores the role of trial-and-error learning. The proposed programmatic research will therefore be the first to compare and contrast how imitation and trial-and-error learning contribute to young children's acquisition and refinement of novel skills. By collecting data across industrialised and indigenous communities in Australia and Southern Africa our international, interdisciplinary team will provide the broadest insights yet into one of the most fundamental forms of human cognition.