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Minimal mimicry: Mere effector matching induces preference

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Sparenberg,  Peggy
Department Psychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Springer,  Anne
Department Psychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Department of Sport and Exercise Psychology, University of Potsdam, Germany;

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Prinz,  Wolfgang
Department Psychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Sparenberg, P., Topolinski, S., Springer, A., & Prinz, W. (2012). Minimal mimicry: Mere effector matching induces preference. Brain and Cognition, 80(3), 291-300. doi:10.1016/j.bandc.2012.08.004.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0012-18DC-7
Abstract
Both mimicking and being mimicked induces preference for a target. The present experiments investigate the minimal sufficient conditions for this mimicry-preference link to occur. We argue that mere effector matching between one’s own and the other person’s movement is sufficient to induce preference, independent of which movement is actually performed. In Experiments 1 and 2, participants moved either their arms or legs, and watched avatars that moved either their arms or legs, respectively, without any instructions to mimic. The executed movements themselves and their pace were completely different between participants (fast circular movements) and targets (slow linear movements). Participants preferred avatars that moved the same body part as they did over avatars that moved a different body part. In Experiment 3, using human targets and differently paced movements, movement similarity was manipulated in addition to effector overlap (moving forward–backward or sideways with arms or legs, respectively). Only effector matching, but not movement matching, influenced preference ratings. These findings suggest that mere effector overlap is sufficient to trigger preference by mimicry.