Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

No one likes a copycat, no matter where you live

Date:
March 11, 2014
Source:
University of Washington
Summary:
Even very young children understand what it means to steal a physical object, yet it appears to take them another couple of years to understand what it means to steal an idea. Psychologists discovered that preschoolers often don't view a copycat negatively, but they do by the age of 5 or 6. And that holds true even across cultures that typically view intellectual property rights in different ways.

Puppet copycat. Researchers had children watch videos of puppets producing a unique drawing or plagiarizing another character's drawing.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Washington

Even very young children understand what it means to steal a physical object, yet it appears to take them another couple of years to understand what it means to steal an idea.

Related Articles


University of Washington psychologist Kristina Olson and colleagues from Yale and the University of Pennsylvania discovered that preschoolers often don't view a copycat negatively, but they do by the age of 5 or 6. And that holds true even across cultures that typically view intellectual property rights in different ways.

"Physical property is something that can be seen, but intellectual property is something that can't be seen, and it's hard to understand, let alone place a value on that," Olson said. "So it's not surprising that it's so hard for younger kids to understand intellectual property rights."

The results are published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.

The researchers wanted to know whether young children in different cultures placed more value on unique artwork or copies of someone else's work. They evaluated 3- to 6-year-old children in the United States, Mexico and China -- chosen by the researchers based on the different emphasis each country places on the protection of intellectual property and ideas.

Researchers had children watch videos of puppets producing a unique drawing or plagiarizing another character's drawing. The videos were in the children's native language (English, Mandarin or Spanish).

Each child watched three 30-second videos. At the beginning of each video, one puppet looked at what the other puppet was drawing. In one video, the puppet that peeked then created an identical drawing. In the second video, he created a similar drawing with the same theme but different colors and shape elements. In the third, the puppet that looked at the other's drawing drew a completely different picture.

After watching each video, the children rated how good or bad the puppets were.

Five- and 6-year-olds from all three cultures rated the puppet who copied the others' work negatively. However, 3- and 4-year-olds evaluated plagiarism much differently than the older children, as well as differently across cultures. Mexican preschoolers rated unique drawers more positively than the plagiarizers, but, American and Chinese 3- and 4-year-olds didn't distinguish much between characters who created original drawings and plagiarized ones. And Chinese preschoolers rated copycats more positively than those who drew something similar.

"Sometimes copying is good; for example, when we learn to write, we all learn this is how you make an A, so that's not considered plagiarism," Olson said. "That may be confusing to children, because sometimes we tell them to come up with novel ideas but other times they're supposed to copy. It's interesting to think about how kids are sorting that out."

The researchers chose to study children in the U.S., which has strong protections in place for intellectual property, and China, which did not until very recently (establishing its first patent law in 1984, more than 150 years after the U.S. and most of Europe.) They also chose Mexico because it is in the middle of the spectrum in protecting intellectual property.

"This is a nice example of how we often think there are huge differences across cultures and that a lot of everyday judgments are colored by our culture. But, this study shows that even in very different cultures, the underlying psychology is sometimes quite similar," Olson said. "By age 5 or 6 across all of these cultures you find that kids think being a copycat is bad."

Co-authors of the study are Fan Yang, a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, and Alex Shaw and Eric Garduno, formerly students at Yale. Olson conducted the research while at Yale University; she joined the University of Washington in summer 2013.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Washington. The original article was written by Doree Armstrong. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. F. Yang, A. Shaw, E. Garduno, K. R. Olson. No one likes a copycat: A cross-cultural investigation of children’s response to plagiarism. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 2014; 121: 111 DOI: 10.1016/j.jecp.2013.11.008

Cite This Page:

University of Washington. "No one likes a copycat, no matter where you live." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140311162817.htm>.
University of Washington. (2014, March 11). No one likes a copycat, no matter where you live. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140311162817.htm
University of Washington. "No one likes a copycat, no matter where you live." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140311162817.htm (accessed October 26, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) A scandal involving bogus classes and inflated grades at the University of North Carolina was bigger than previously reported, a new investigation found. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Feast your eyes on this gorgeous family-friendly resort. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Your Favorite Color Says About You

What Your Favorite Color Says About You

Buzz60 (Oct. 22, 2014) We all have one color we love to wear, and believe it or not, your color preference may reveal some of your character traits. In celebration of National Color Day, Krystin Goodwin (@kyrstingoodwin) highlights what your favorite colors may say about you. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins