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Overimitation of Children With Cochlear Implants or Hearing Aids in Comparison With Children With Normal Hearing

Wang, Zhidan PhD; Zhu, Xiaoyu BA; Fong, Frankie T. K. PhD; Meng, Jing BA; Wang, Haijing MA

doi: 10.1097/IYC.0000000000000157
Original Research/Study

Our proclivity toward high-fidelity transmission of knowledge is one of the key mechanisms that underpins our success as a species. This study evaluated overimitation within children with hearing impairments (who had either a cochlear implant or a hearing aid) in relation to those with normal hearing. A total of seventy-two 4-year-old children were shown how to operate novel objects using a series of causally irrelevant actions, followed by causally relevant action. We measured the degree to which children reproduced the irrelevant actions as an indicator of imitative fidelity. Children with either hearing impairments or normal hearing replicated the irrelevant actions at rates above the baseline. However, imitative fidelity of the former group was significantly lower. In addition, children with hearing impairments were also less likely to identify and achieve the outcome by performing the relevant act. This study advances our understanding of social learning in children with hearing impairments and proposes potential weakness of social-cognitive skills within this population.

School of Education Science, Jiangsu Normal University, Xuzhou, China (Dr Z. Wang, Mss Zhu and H. Wang); Early Cognitive Development Centre, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland, Queensland, Australia (Dr Fong); and Xuzhou Special Education School, Xuzhou, China (Ms Meng).

Correspondence: Zhidan Wang, School of Education Science, Jiangsu Normal University, No. 101 Shanghai Rd, Tongshan District, Xuzhou, China, 221116 (

This research was supported by the funding from Humanities and Social Sciences of the Chinese Ministry of Education (18YJC190024) to Zhidan Wang. The authors are grateful to the participating children and parents.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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