Even Toddlers Learn From Their Peers
How are toddlers like chimpanzees? From Eurekalert:
“A study published online on April 12 in the Cell Press journal Current Biology offers some news for parents: even toddlers have a tendency to follow the crowd. That sensitivity isn’t unique to humans either; chimpanzees also appear more likely to pick up habits if ‘everyone else is doing it.’ That conclusion comes from evidence that 2-year-olds and chimpanzees are more likely to copy actions when they see them repeated by three of their peers than if they see the same action done by one peer three times.
‘I think few people would have expected to find that 2-year-olds are already influenced by the majority,’ said Daniel Haun of the Max Planck Institutes for Evolutionary Anthropology and Psycholinguistics. ‘Parents and teachers should be aware of these dynamics in children’s peer interactions.’ The findings tell us that humans and chimpanzees have shared strategies for social learning, the researchers say.
While the findings might leave some parents in dismay, majority rule probably does have its advantages, evolutionarily speaking. ‘The tendency to acquire the behaviors of the majority has been posited as key to the transmission of relatively safe, reliable, and productive behavioral strategies,’ Haun says. Read more here.
Fascinating, and it makes sense—if a whole bunch of your peers are doing something, it’s probably a better bet than something a single outlier is doing. Also intriguing to think about how even very young children are observing and learning from their peers, and not just from teachers and parents.