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He changed our views of small children

In 1977, Andrew Meltzoff showed that infants can imitate others shortly after birth. He rewrote our understanding of children’s development with his research on the social abilities of very small children.

Meltzoff has accepted an invitation from Linköping University for a three-year guest researcher position. Mikael Heimann, professor and head of the developmental psychology research group, is very pleased.

“This opens up a tremendous opportunity for us to develop our methodological competence,” he says.

Meltzoff achieved international celebrity when he showed that infants who were only six weeks old could imitate someone sticking out their tongue.

“The prevailing view at that point, which was built on Piaget’s research, was that children developed through learning from their surroundings. This is true, of course, but Meltzoff showed that children have something right from the start, a tendency to act and react socially right from birth.”

Later research showed, for example, that the interest of newborns is attracted more by faces than by things. Meltzoff was also able to show that children can remember people at six weeks of age, through attempts at what is known as delayed imitation.

Mikael Heimann is conducting research himself in the same field, and has been in contact with Meltzoff since the 1980s. They have collaborated on several scientific articles and books. Meltzoff’s guest professorship at LiU is limited to three weeks per year. The first of them occured this week, when on Wednesdaythe 27th October he held a public lecture.


Therese Winder 2010-10-29




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Last updated: 2010-10-29