Bitesize has changed! We're updating subjects as fast as we can. Visit our new site to find Bitesize guides and clips - and tell us what you think!

Science

Behaviour

Print

Imitation

Imitation is a type of behaviour where one animal copies another animal. Humans often imitate each other, often without realising it. When people talk to each other, they may stand or sit in a similar way, and copy each other’s movements. Scientists think that this happens so that the speakers feel more at ease with other.

Learning

Joyce Butler with Nim the chimpanzee

Some chimpanzees have been taught sign language by imitating people.

Imitation helps us to learn how to do new things. Your teachers often show you how to do something new, and then guide you as you try to repeat what they did.

Some scientists think that humans are the only animals that copy each other. Other scientists have observed chimpanzees and other primates imitating each other.

For example, chimpanzees can use sticks to spear juicy grubs to eat. Other chimpanzees copy this behaviour. In this way they learn new skills.

Activity

Behaviour activity

Is it instinct or conditioning that makes you study science?

Play

Questionaut

Join Questionaut's quest to find his friend's hat.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.