What is Deferred Imitation? - Definition & Examples

Instructor: Gaines Arnold
How do infants and toddlers learn? This lesson discusses deferred imitation which psychologist Jean Piaget defined with regard to how children learn. The lesson also provides examples of the process.

The Light Switch

Every day eighteen-month-old Georgie was taken to a sitter prior to her parents going to work. She wanted to walk out the door like an adult, she could use her legs, but they were in a hurry. They didn't have time to hold her hands as she toddled to the car. Georgie saw that every day, when they left the house, either mom or dad, would push down a little stick on the wall and the house would get dark.

The same operation was performed each day of the week (except for certain days when they all stayed home and played) with her parents making the house go dark each time. Georgie stopped watching after a while because she knew what was going to happen. Then one day, after Georgie had turned two, her parents said it was time to go. To their amazement, Georgie toddled over to the wall, climbed up on a bench and turned off the light. Her act of deferred imitation may have seemed remarkable, but Georgie's parents shouldn't have been surprised.

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