Psychologists generally regard preschoolers as supreme copycats. Those little bundles of energy will imitate whatever an adult does to remove a prize from a box, including irrelevant and just plain silly stuff. If an experimenter pats a container twice before lifting a latch to open it, so will most kids who watched the demonstration.
There’s an official scientific name for mega-mimicry of this sort: overimitation. Maybe copying everything helps youngsters learn rituals and other cultural quirks. Maybe kids imitate to excess so that an adult who appears to possess special knowledge will like them.
Or maybe overimitation is overrated. In realistic learning situations — where children can gauge whether a majority of adults are patting a box or otherwise going off course before getting down to business — copycat fever cools off dramatically.
That’s the conclusion of... Read More
Like millions of parents, I post pictures of my kid on Instagram. When she was born, her father and I had a brief conversation about whether it was “dangerous” in a very nebulous sense. Comforted by the fact that I use a fake name on my account, we... Read More
I am not the first person who has considered composing poetry to the placenta. One writer begins: “Oh Lady Placenta! What a life you lived in magenta.” Another almost coos to the “constant companion, womb pillow friend.” It might sound like odd... Read More
With the promise and pitfalls of umbilical cord blood samples in mind, how should parents decide whether to put their baby’s blood on ice, either for their own family’s future use or as a donation for the greater good? It’s a tricky calculation, one... Read More
Umbilical cords tie mother and baby together, if only for a brief spell. But the stuff inside these cords has the potential to be useful well after birth. Cells in umbilical cord blood are already being used to treat certain diseases, including... Read More
When you’re pregnant, especially for the first time, you have to make a lot of decisions. Will coffee remain a part of your life? Where are you going to give birth? What are you going to name the baby? What values will you teach him? Do you really... Read More
As I’ve been reporting a story about the opioid epidemic, I’ve sorted through a lot of tragic numbers that make the astronomical spike in deaths and injuries related to the drugs feel more real.The rise in the abuse of opioids — powerfully addictive... Read More