Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Children from Western industrialized populations tend to copy actions modeled by an adult with high fidelity even if these actions are functionally irrelevant. This so-called overimitation has been argued to be an important driver of cumulative cultural learning. However, cross-cultural and developmental evidence on overimitation is controversial, likely due to diverging task demands regarding children's attention and memory capabilities. Here, children from a recent hunter-gatherer population (Hai||om in Namibia) were compared with urban Western children (Germany) using an overimitation procedure with minimal cognitive task demands. Although the proportion of children engaging in any overimitation was similar across the two populations, German overimitators copied irrelevant actions more persistently across tasks. These results suggest that the influence of culture on children's overimitation may be one of degree, not kind.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Experimental Child Psychology

Publication Date