Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Lerning by imitation

Children seem to learn by imitation according to an article by Derek Lyons et al in PNAS. I would go further and say "So do I", a lot.

When imitating he argues that children cant tell which actions are necessary and which actions are irrelevant to achieving the goal, easily resulting in something he calls overimitation. Seems like there is no skeptic filter screening actions being imitated, although children would otherwise be able to identify irrelevant steps as silly.

I guess this occur a lot in IT (among other disciplines) as well. Part of what is done has no real relevance to the problem at hand. The procedures just happen that way as a result of accidents being replicated and accidentally frozen behavior, just because someone happened to originally do it that way. Somebody may finally realize that some parts of procedures are not bringing any value and improve, but that seems to take ages.

1 comment:

Derek said...

Hi Anders,

This is Derek Lyons, first author of the Yale study. Thanks for blogging about my work! I loved what you wrote, as my own experience with adults and overimitation has been very much the same. Especially when it comes to computers, we adults are definitely not immune to the same kinds of overimitative errors that children make. I actually just wrote about your post, and about this topic in general, on my own blog. You can read my response at:

(Look for the December 6, 2007 entry).

Please do stop by and comment!