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Why Imitation Is at the Heart of Being Human

Imitation and culture

Imitating and performing impractical actions is the key to learning complex cultural skills.

Over-imitation enables us to maintain a distinctively human culture.

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Why Imitation Is at the Heart of Being Human

Why Imitation Is at the Heart of Being Human

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_imitation_is_at_the_heart_of_being_human

greatergood.berkeley.edu

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Key Ideas

We copy others

A growing number of cognitive scientists and anthropologists think that human beings survive and thrive because we imitate others and don’t think for ourselves.

The benefits of imitation

Inexperienced learners can't judge which steps are relevant and must rely on the wisdom of more experienced elders and peers.

  • The tendency for over-imitation makes it possible to develop skills and technologies over generations.
  • Rituals that aren't connected tangibly with practical outcomes, bond people and demonstrate cultural affiliation.

Imitation and culture

Imitating and performing impractical actions is the key to learning complex cultural skills.

Over-imitation enables us to maintain a distinctively human culture.

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