(Science Daily) People Mimic Each Other, but Only When They Have the Same Goal, Study Suggests
ScienceDaily (Jan. 11, 2012)
It’s easy to pick up on the movements that other people make — scratching your head, crossing your legs. But a new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that people only feel the urge to mimic each other when they have the same goal.
It’s common for people to pick up on each other’s movements. “This is the notion that when you’re having a conversation with somebody and you don’t care where your hands are, and the other person scratches their head, you scratch your head,” says Sasha Ondobaka of the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands. He cowrote the paper with Floris P. de Lange, Michael Wiemers, and Harold Bekkering of Radboud and Roger D. Newman-Norlund of the University of South Carolina. This kind of mimicry is well-established, but Ondobaka and his colleagues suspected that what people mimic depends on their goals.