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.

From a young age, children in Western, industrialized societies overimitate others’ actions. However, the underlying motivation and cultural specificity of this behavior have remained unclear. Here, 3- to 8-year-old children (N = 125) from two rural Namibian populations (Hai||om and Ovambo) and one urban German population were tested in two versions of an overimitation paradigm. Across cultures, children selectively imitated more actions when the adult model was present compared to being absent, denoting a social motivation underlying overimitation. At the same time, children’s imitation was not linked to their tendency to reengage the adult in a second, independent measure of social motivation. These results suggest that, across diverse cultures, children’s imitative behavior is actuated by the attentive state of the model. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)

Original publication




Journal article


Developmental Psychology

Publication Date





2630 - 2636