Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Slater I 76
Imitation/Piaget/MeltzoffVsPiaget/Slater: The first detailed account of the development of imitation throughout infancy was given by Piaget, a brief account of which was described earlier. Meltzoff and Moore’s findings are a clear demonstration that Piaget’s account was wrong, on at least two counts. Piaget suggested that the ability to imitate a gesture that the infant can feel but cannot see, such as lip movements, appeared around 8–10 months but Meltzoff and Moore’s findings suggest that this ability is present soon after birth. Piaget also suggested that the capacity for represention appeared towards the end of infancy, around 14–18 months. However, Meltzoff and Moore’s findings gave evidence that a representation of the human face, in both the visual and proprioceptive modalities, is also available at birth, necessitating a radically different account of infant development in that “The ability to act on the basis of an abstract representation of a perceptually absent stimulus becomes the starting point for psychological development in infancy and not its culmination” Meltzoff and Moore (1977(1), p. 77).
Problem: neonatal imitation is not easy so score. >Gestures/developmental psychology.
For the importance of the capacity for imitation see >Social development/Slater.


1. Meltzoff, A.N. & Moore, M. K. (1977). Imitation of facial and manual gestures by human neonates. Science, 198, 75-78

Alan M. Slater, “Imitation in Infancy. Revisiting Meltzoff and Moore’s (1977) Study”, in: Alan M. Slater and Paul C. Quinn (eds.) 2012. Developmental Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies. London: Sage Publications


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Slater I
Alan M. Slater
Paul C. Quinn
Developmental Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies London 2012


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