It seems from the inception of parenting itself (well, at least since the Renaissance), we as humans have been ruminating on the manner in which our children behave. I don’t know a single mom or dad today who hasn’t put forth some effort in developing their children’s good behavior; often, parents embark on some level of self-improvement if not for themselves, then for the sake of their kids. We hope that with healthy behavior, we’ll have healthy outcomes; that ultimately, our children will sustain happy, productive, and yes, healthy lives well into their future.
So, how exactly do we cultivate behavior and what is our potential given our current culture?
The Science Behind Influence
Recently, a study on preschool-age children, published in Psychological Science Journal, found that young participants “over-imitated” what the adults demonstrated. Specifically, they imitated the exact, sometimes irrelevant steps as was modeled to them by the adult, even when there were clear, more efficient ways to producing the same end result.
The researchers believed this type of imitation to be universal among people and concluded that this behavior is at the core of how we develop and pass down culture. While it’s likely not simply “Monkey see monkey do,” (and it turns out primates actually don’t mimic such irrelevant behavior), it is yet another glimpse into the dynamic aspects of our human tendencies and behavior.