Nonverbal imitation and toddlers' mastery of verbal means of achieving coordinated action
Fourteen dyads of unfamiliar peers (White, both same gender and mixed gender) were observed longitudinally at 16, 20, 24, 28, and 32 months of age. Verbalizations to the peer were analyzed for their social function with respect to the ongoing nonverbal activity and their temporal and topical coherence to prior talk. Six types of speech (including verbal directives and topically well-connected speech) increased in frequency only after the peer partners had shown a marked increase in their readiness to imitate each other's nonverbal actions. These same types of speech occurred reliably more often when the peers were engaged in bouts of coordinated action generated largely by means of nonverbal imitative acts than during bouts of less coordinated nonverbal activity. Toddlers, through their nonverbal imitative activity, appear to create joint understandings of what they are doing together that aid in their use and development of verbal means of achieving coordinated action. Copyright 1996 by the American Psychological Association, Inc.
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