Kids Are not Apes, When They Imitate
Imitation is part of definition to be human, as it
underlies our capacity to acquire and transmit culture, including social rituals,
norms, and conventions. A study by researchers of University of Birmingham and
Durham University in the United Kingdom appearing in the journal Child Development concludes that human kids imitate in a
totally different way as done by their great ape relatives, the bonobos.
Children are very skilled in imitating the actions of others and are so motivated to do so that they will even copy actions for no reason. The study found that bonobos do not copy actions as children do, which highlights the unique nature of human imitation.
“The young children were very willing to copy actions even though they served no obvious function, while the bonobos were not. Children’s tendency to imitate in this way likely represents a critical piece of the puzzle as to why human cultures differ so profoundly from those of great apes,” comments the study.