Humans are recognized to be an ultra-social species. They learn mainly by observing and interacting with others, which is called social learning. Unlike other species, humans even also tend to overimitate others. However, learning from others comes with risks: information might be outdated, misleading, or irrelevant.
The lecture will review recent research with young children showing that even infants can detect incompetent informants, that preschool children can learn from competent robots, and that puppets are not overimitated as much as humans. The cognitive and social skills required to efficiently learn from others will be discussed by examining recent research on imitation by children with ASD and Down Syndrome.