Aime, Hilary Ann - Social learning and social motivation: Examining parent-child interactions...

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This thesis has been submitted to the Library for purposes of graduation, but needs to be audited for technical details related to publication in order to be approved for inclusion in the Library collection.
Fall 2017
Degree type: 
Department of Psychology
Arts & Social Sciences
Senior supervisor: 
Tanya Broesch
Co-supervisor, if any: 
Grace Iarocci
Thesis title: 
Social learning and social motivation: Examining parent-child interactions
Given Names: 
Hilary Ann
Humans are unique in our ability to learn from one another. Our sensitivity to non-verbal communicative cues has been argued to facilitate the learning process, drawing attention to critical information in the learning context. However, it is unclear whether these behaviours derive from children’s motivation to learn, or the motivation to interact and affiliate with others. I examined the use of non-verbal communicative cues in a social learning context in 50 parent-child dyads, with children varying in their desire to interact with others (range = 7-12 years): 26 typically developing (TD) children and 24 children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). When instructed to teach their child a new skill, parents of TD and ASD children produced similar amounts of non-verbal communicative cues. However, children with ASD appeared to use these cues to adjust their behaviour less than their same-age TD peers. Although children with ASD took longer to learn a novel skill, both when learning from a parent and on their own, children’s learning efficiency (speed of learning) was not related to their use of communicative cues from their parent. Finally, children’s parent-reported social responsiveness (as measured by the Multidimensional Social Competence Scale) was positively related to their use of communicative cues.
social learning; autism spectrum disorders; non-verbal communication; imitation; social responsiveness; social motivation
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