The ability to learn through social interaction has proven critical to education and survival. The present study compares teachers, faculty, and staff to peers in an academic setting, to see which influence is more salient. It was predicted that preschool children would be more likely to imitate a teacher and college students would be more likely to imitate peers. Two experiments were conducted: a painting activity with preschool students and a survey with college students, to see which influence was more salient, and if the influences changed over time. Findings suggest that overall preschool students were more likely to be influenced by a teacher model; however college students were overall more likely to be influenced by peers in an academic setting. Specific analyses found, however, that professors may still hold some social influence as college students seemed to value their professors’ opinions and did not want to disappoint their professors. Implications include that, at young ages, teachers must take into account their high social influence, and as students get older teachers and professors could use the peer group as a way to promote positive learning.


Thompson, Claudia




Developmental Psychology | School Psychology | Social Psychology


Social Learning

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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