LiveScience shows just how canny little babies are in selecting grown-ups to emulate:
Researchers divided 60 babies between 13 months and 16 months into two groups. In the first group, “unreliable” experimenters looked inside a container while expressing excitement, and invited the babies to discover whether the box contained a toy or was empty. For that group’s experiment, the box was empty. The second group had “reliable” experimenters, so when the babies copied the adults’ enthusiastic behavior and looked inside the box, they found a toy.
In a second imitation task, each baby again observed the same experimenter that they had looked at during the box exercise. This time, the adult used her forehead instead of her hands to turn on a push-on light. The experimenter then watched to see whether the infant would copy her behavior.
The results showed that 61 percent of the infants in the “reliable” group imitated the irrational behavior of using their foreheads to turn on the light. By contrast, 34 percent of infants imitated the unreliable testers who had previously deceived them during the box task.
“This shows infants will imitate behavior from a reliable adult,” study researcher Ivy Brooker of the Concordia Department of Psychology said in a statement.