Imitation & Operant Conditioning

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Imitation is really a basic form of learning. It is observing the behavior of others, assuming the same positions and trying to duplicate the same results. Being able to see someone else perform a task gives more confidence that you'll be able to perform it yourself. Operant conditioning starts off with a neutral behavior and then is either positively reinforced or negatively reinforced. A positive reinforcer is any type of reward system and a negative reinforcer would be a type of punishment. If the behavior is positively reinforced it will most likely lead to repetition of that behavior. If the behavior is negatively reinforced it may cause a cessation of that behavior. Since punishment will always want to be avoided and being rewarded for behavior will make you want to repeat that behavior; that's how operant conditioning assists in learning. The father in the YouTube video repeats the movements a few times so baby can understand he is doing and can apply it to himself. The father's smile and laughter positively reinforces the baby to imitate him. If the father had been angry and not interacting with the baby then it probably would have had the opposite effect. Since the baby was positively reinforced he was able to imitate his father. According to Blackwell Handbook of Infant Development; “… six month olds imitating adult’s actions on objects after a 24-hour delay… But when the same demonstration is televised, infants do not imitate the same multistep action they did before they are 18 months old.”(Bremner). “Between 14 to 15 months, however, infants can imitate some televised actions.”(Bremner). This is interesting because it proves that watching television is not always the best educational route, a baby can use more stimulation than just sitting in front of a screen. Vygotsky's Social learning theory is almost learning by imitation. A child may observe how those close to them and around them act. By being observant they may learn what is socially...
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