The Chameleon Effect: The Relationship Between Imitation and Interdependence


The chameleon effect is the unconscious mimicry of nonverbal behaviours such as mannerisms, expressions, and postures. Current literature is deficit on instances of verbal behaviours as opposed to nonverbal behaviours. This imitation is said to have evolved to prospectively serve a social glue function in creating rapport and affiliation in social interactions and retrospectively increased survival rates of humans who participated in mimicry in social interactions. Self construals such as interdependence and independence are predicted to moderate the degree of imitation of behaviours in social interactions. An interdependent self construal will internalize the construals of others into the self and will be predicted to display a greater amount of imitation. Firstly, participants completed a self construal instrument to determine their degree of interdependence. Secondly, the participants viewed a Pink Panther film and later described the events of the film in a video recorded monologue. Thirdly, participants worked with a confederate in four configuration tasks in a dialogue while their behaviour was video recorded. Finally, the participants filled out a rapport questionnaire to evaluate the smoothness of the interaction with the confederate. The frequency of imitated behaviours was extracted in the dialogue and compared with the monologue to illustrate the manifestations of behaviours primed by the confederate in the socially interactive tasks. Statistically significant results were displayed in imitation of nonverbal and verbal communication based on 30 sessions. Additionally, significant interactions between interdependence, rapport, and imitation were obtained.

Author Information
Yekta Sharafaddin-zadeh, University of Alberta, Canada
Elena Nicoladis, University of Alberta, Canada

Paper Information
Conference: ACP2020
Stream: Linguistics, Language & Psychology/Behavioral Science

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon