Imitation of gestures in children is goal-directed

Q J Exp Psychol A. 2000 Feb;53(1):153-64. doi: 10.1080/713755872.


The view that the motor program activated during imitation is organized by goals was investigated by asking pre-school children to imitate a set of hand gestures of varying complexity that were made by an experimenter sitting in front of them. In Experiments 1 and 3, children reached for the correct object (one of their own ears or one of two dots on a table) but preferred to use the ipsilateral hand. This ipsilateral preference was not observed when hand movements were made to only one ear (Experiment 2), or when movements were directed at space rather than physical objects (Experiment 3). The results are consistent with the notion that imitation is guided by goals and provide insights about how these goals are organized.

MeSH terms

  • Child Behavior / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Gestures*
  • Goals
  • Humans
  • Imitative Behavior*
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological