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Infant Imitation and Memory: Nine-Month-Olds in Immediate and Deferred Tests

Andrew N. Meltzoff
Child Development
Vol. 59, No. 1 (Feb., 1988), pp. 217-225
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1130404
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1130404
Page Count: 9
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Infant Imitation and Memory: Nine-Month-Olds in Immediate and Deferred Tests
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Abstract

The ability of 9-month-old infants to imitate simple actions with novel objects was investigated. Both immediate and deferred imitation were tested, the latter by interposing a 24-hour delay between the stimulus-presentation and response periods. The results provide evidence for both immediate and deferred imitation; moreover, imitative responding was not significantly dampened by the 24-hour delay. The findings demonstrate that there exists some underlying capacity for deferring imitation of certain acts well under 1 year of age, and thus that this ability does not develop in a stagelike step function at about 18-24 months as commonly predicted. These findings also show that imitation in early infancy can span wide enough delays to be of potential service in social development; actions on novel objects that are observed one day can be stored by the child and repeated the next day. The study of deferred imitation provides a largely untapped method for investigating the nature and development of recall memory in the preverbal child.

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