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Imitation by Animals: How Do They Do It?

Thomas R. Zentall
Current Directions in Psychological Science
Vol. 12, No. 3 (Jun., 2003), pp. 91-95
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20182847
Page Count: 5
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Imitation by Animals: How Do They Do It?
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Abstract

Imitation is of psychological interest in part because it has cognitive implications for how organisms view the behavior of others, relative to their own behavior. It implies the ability to take the perspective of another. For this reason, researchers have tried to distinguish imitation from other kinds of social learning and influence. In the two-action procedure, one of two response topographies is demonstrated, and the correlation between the topography demonstrated and the topography later used by the observer is a measure of imitation. Both pigeons and Japanese quail show response matching, despite the fact that from their perspective, their own behavior appears quite different from that demonstrated. Although imitation has been demonstrated in birds and several species of primates, researchers are still not certain what mechanisms underlie this ability.

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