Imitation of peers in children and adults

Authors: Jose Apesteguia, Steffen Huck, Jörg Oechssler and Simon Weidenholzer

Games, Vol. 9, No 1, Art. number 11, March, 2018

Imitation of the successful choices of others is a simple and superficially attractive learning rule. It has been shown to be an important driving force for the strategic behavior of (young) adults. In this study we examine whether imitation is prevalent in the behavior of children aged between 8 and 10. Surprisingly, we find that imitation seems to be cognitively demanding. Most children in this age group ignore information about others, foregoing substantial learning opportunities. While this seems to contradict much of the literature in the field of psychology, we argue that success-based imitation of peers may be harder for children to perform than non-success-based imitation of adults.