Start Date: 1st October, 2014.
Factors, biases and flexibility in children's social learning.
My project involves looking at social learning in children. More specifically I am looking at the mechanisms that underpin children’s learning from other people. With the amount of information that people learn from one another over the course of their lives it is vital to understand what factors affect the way humans perceive and model others’ attitudes and behaviours. Previous research has demonstrated that children, though very prone to copy other people, will do so in very different ways depending on the characteristics of the learning situation. My project will aim to provide a theoretical review of this field and gather supporting evidence for said approach, with a view to develop possible applications for educational theory.
Extending from findings in the previous literature, this project will involve manipulating several variables which have been shown to affect the strength of children’s imitative fidelity (i.e. model information, presentation order, type of behaviour modelled, etc.). A comprehensive framework of the mechanisms of social learning will be drawn up by performing a synthesis of the existing work on this topic. This framework will then be evaluated through follow-up studies. Finally it will be assessed whether it is possible to affect other aspects of children’s cognitive and social reasoning (e.g. counterfactual reasoning, deductive ability, social identification, etc…) by manipulating the variables influencing social learning. This will provide evidence of the importance of learning throughout childhood and suggest informative new directions, of particular consequence for research on education and parenting.
I have generously been awarded a Scholarship by the University of Stirling.