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Imitation: The methodological adequacy of directional control tests

Gardner, Mark Robert; (1997) Imitation: The methodological adequacy of directional control tests. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This thesis is concerned with methodological problems which may arise when attempting to establish evidence of imitation with a directional control test, such as the bidirectional control procedure (e.g., Heyes and Dawson, 1990). Evidence presented here suggests that an outstanding interpretative issue (the emulation hypothesis) remains for all directional control tests, and the bidirectional control procedure has further interpretative and practical problems of its own (the odour hypothesis and a lack of sensitivity). According to the emulation hypothesis, observers subjected to a directional control test reproduce observed behaviours because they are influenced by visual exposure to the movements of the manipulandum, rather than the body movements of their demonstrators. Differences in humans' capacity to reproduce, while performing a concurrent task, object manipulations in a directional control test (which might be imitated or emulated), and body movements not directed towards an object (which could only be imitated) were interpreted as suggesting that emulation may occur in a directional control test. According to the odour hypothesis, observer rats subjected to the bidirectional control procedure tend to push a joystick in the same direction as their demonstrators because they are influenced by odorous physical traces asymmetrically deposited during demonstration sessions. Some evidence was found which is consistent with this hypothesis when the location of putative demonstration session deposits was independently manipulated in the bidirectional control procedure. A meta-analysis of a large sample of bidirectional control experiments revealed that the effect size for demonstrator-consistent responding in rats was modest. This was interpreted as suggesting that Heyes and Dawson's bidirectional control procedure is not sufficiently sensitive to be of practical use in the investigation of imitation. A more sensitive test was not found either by modifying this procedure, or by applying a modified procedure to capuchin monkeys.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Imitation: The methodological adequacy of directional control tests
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10099528
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