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Children are voracious learners and adults are ubiquitous teachers. This project investigates whether the special infant-­‐ directed action modifications parents use when teaching their children (called “motionese”; Brand, Baldwin, & Ashburn, 2002) improves two-­‐year-­‐olds’ imitation. Children saw an adult perform a series of acts on four novel objects, using either an infant-­‐directed style (including larger range of motion and enhanced boundary marking) or an adult-­‐directed style. Children’s imitation of the acts was higher in the infant-­‐ directed relative to the adult-­‐directed condition, and both types of demonstration increased imitation relative to baseline (no demonstration). We propose that motionese may also provide information about actions, objects, and intentionality, thus enhancing toddlers’ observational learning.


This is an Author Accepted Manuscript version of:

Rebecca A. Williamson, Rebecca J. Brand. Child-directed action promotes 2-year-olds’ imitation. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, Volume 118, February 2014, Pages 119-126.

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