Dissociable aspects of imitation. A study in autism

Hobson, Jessica A and Hobson, R Peter (2008) Dissociable aspects of imitation. A study in autism. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 101 (3). pp. 170-185. ISSN 0022-0965

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Abstract/Book Review

What does it mean for a child to imitate someone else? We tested matched groups of children with and without autism (n = 16 for each group, with a mean chronological age of 11 years and a mean verbal mental age of 6 years) to investigate two potentially dissociable aspects of imitation: copying goal-directed actions, on the one hand, and imitating the “style” with which a person demonstrates those actions, on the other. Our hypothesis was that the latter, but not necessarily the former, kind of imitation reflects a special quality of interpersonal engagement in which one person identifies with another, and that the propensity to identify with others is specifically weak in autism. As predicted, participants with and without autism were similar in their ability to copy six relatively complex goal-directed actions but were significantly different in imitating the style with which six simpler goal-directed actions were executed, especially when style was incidental to accomplishing a goal. We interpret the findings in terms of a link among children’s capacities for intersubjective engagement, imitation, and learning new ways to relate to objects.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Article Outline Introduction Imitation and identification The current study Method Participants Test sessions Goal-directed actions Style Scoring of imitation Goal-directed actions Style Results Preliminary observations Imitation Overall scores (immediate plus delayed conditions) Immediate versus delayed imitation Levels of task difficulty Style in relation to the goal Developmental considerations Discussion Methodological issues Alternative interpretations Acknowledgements
Uncontrolled Keywords: Imitation, Identification
Subjects: Communication (incl. disorders of) > Autism
Department/People: Special Units
Depositing User: Ms Angela Douglas
Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2009 15:26
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2017 19:34
URI: http://repository.tavistockandportman.ac.uk/id/eprint/213

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