Toddlers are more likely to pick up a behaviour if they see most other toddlers doing it, a new study shows.
Researchers found that two-year-olds were more likely to copy an action when they saw it repeated by three other toddlers than if they saw an action repeated by just one other toddler. The findings appear online in the journal Current Biology.
"I think few people would have expected to find that two-year-olds are already influenced by the majority," study author Daniel Haun, of the Max Planck Institutes for Evolutionary Anthropology and Psycholinguistics in Germany and the Netherlands. "Parents and teachers should be aware of these dynamics in children's peer interactions," Haun said.
Advantages of peer pressure
The study also found that chimpanzees tend to follow the crowd, but orangutans do not. This suggests that humans and chimps have shared strategies for social learning, the researchers said.
While parents may be dismayed to learn that their toddlers are already sensitive to peer pressure, this type of behaviour has advantages in terms of evolution.
"The tendency to acquire the behaviours of the majority has been posited as key to the transmission of relatively safe, reliable and productive behavioural strategies," Haun noted.
Peer pressure is hardwired into our brains
The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about toddler growth and development.
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