Cognitive mechanisms for imitation and the detection of imitation in human dyadic interactions


Imitation is a ubiquitous human behavior which has been linked to both social learning and social bonding (Uzgiris, 1981). Here, we examine how imitation is used in the context of social affiliation, with a particular focus on the unconscious mimicry of body postures or gestures which are sometimes referred to as the ‘chameleon effect’ (Chartrand & Bargh, 1999). The ‘social glue’ hypothesis of mimicry claims that mimicry behavior has a key causal role in social affiliation (Lakin, Jefferis, Cheng, & Chartrand, 2003; van Baaren, Janssen, Chartrand, & Dijksterhuis, 2009). For example, if Anna mimics an action by Bert (without awareness in either), the theory claims that Anna sends a prosocial signal to Bert and Bert receives that information (Wang & Hamilton, 2012).

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