Imitation is one of the strongest natural tendencies of the human animal. Man is more imitative than any other animal. Ani­mals which do not imitate can receive but little training and almost no education. Man acquires language, manners, morals, politics, religion, largely through imitation of those about him. The development of conscience in the child is thought to be due to imitation, to the desire to be like others and to the tendency to seek their approval. Throughout all human acquisition the tendency to imitate helps to initiate habits. After a habit becomes established the individual may or may not think of the meaning of what he does. The young man is likely to vote as his father voted. the young woman is likely to cook as her mother cooked; both legislation and diges­tion may suffer the consequences.

   The simplest type of imitation is almost reflex in nature. The suggestion which starts the response is something perceived. but the imitator is hardly aware that he has perceived or that he is imitating. When someone in an audience coughs, that serves as suggestion and many others follow the example. They would probably declare that they needed to cough. Peculiar movements, facial expressions, tones of voice. peculiarities of pronunciation, are imitated in this spontaneous way. Hence it is bad for children to be with attendants or teachers who have undesirable modes of expression. A child with no impediment in his speech has become a stutterer from association with another who stuttered because of actual physical difficulties.

   Another type of imitation is voluntary. The imitator knows that he is imitating. His memory, imagination and power to think are involved in keeping before his attention the suggestion he is trying to copy. Learning to write involves much of this kind of imitation. A child had difficulty with a long word; his teacher pronounced it slowly, calling attention to the place of her tongue against her teeth. This furnished the suggestion needed; the pupil made an effort and succeeded. That was voluntary imitation because the imitator was conscious of making an effort to be just like the example. Too much voluntary imitation may easily be demanded and this has led to condemnation of all imitation in connection with the education of children. The danger is not in too much voluntary imitation, but in too little opportunity to use constructively the experiences gained in that way.

   A third type of imitation is dramatic. A little boy saw men putting up telephone wires; a few days later he was observed tying strings to the posts of the porch and calling to imaginary workmen. He had completely forgotten himself; he was a workman giving orders to men who were real to him. His imitation was highly dramatic. Memory and imagination were employed in keeping the suggestion before him, but he was not conscious of putting forth effort. He had entered into the life of another person. He was not trying to be like that person: for the time being he was that person. That is the difference between voluntary and dramatic imitation. A good actor imitates dramatically, a poor one voluntarily; a good actor plays the part, a poor one works.

   Dramatic imitation is valuable because it widens experiences in ways that would otherwise be impossible, and the reflex effect upon real personality is often beneficial. A boy who played the part of the prince in The Prince and the Pauper seemed to possess more princely qualities than belonged to him before. But the difficulty in much so-called dramatic imita­tion lies in the fact that it is not dramatic, but merely voluntary. Unless the performers forget themselves and really play their parts the performance can have but little value.

   Most complex of all is imitation of an ideal. Every one is imitating some sort of an ideal whether he is aware of it or not. All of a man's experiences are contributing to the general notions or ideas of what he wants to be. These general notions or ideas have suggestive power. They may come from observation of other persons on from reading, but come they do into every normal consciousness. It is therefore most important for children and youth to be associated with persons who contribute to the establishment of desirable ideals, and to have access to books reflecting the best minds the world has known.