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Paulus, Markus (2012): Is It Rational to Assume that Infants Imitate Rationally? A Theoretical Analysis and Critique. In: Human Development, Nr. 3: S. 107-121


It has been suggested that preverbal infants evaluate the efficiency of others' actions (by applying a principle of rational action) and that they imitate others' actions rationally. The present contribution presents a conceptual analysis of the claim that preverbal infants imitate rationally. It shows that this ability rests on at least three assumptions: that infants are able to perceive others' action capabilities, that infants reason about and conceptually represent their own bodies, and that infants are able to think counterfactually. It is argued that none of these three abilities is in place during infancy. Furthermore, it is shown that the idea of a principle of rational action suffers from two fallacies. As a consequence, is it suggested that it is not rational to assume that infants imitate rationally. Copyright (C) 2012 S. Karger AG, Basel