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.
“If you and I both want to drink coffee, it would be good for me to synchronize my movement with yours,” Ondobaka says. “But if you’re going for a walk and I need coffee, it wouldn’t make sense to be coupled on this movement level.”
Ondobaka and his colleagues devised an experiment to see how much of a pull people feel to mimic when they have the same or different goals from someone else. Each participant sat across from an experimenter. They played a sort of card game on a touch screen embedded in the table between. First, two cards appeared in front of the experimenter, who chose either the higher or the lower card. Then two cards appeared in front of the participant. This happened 16 times in a row. For some 16-game series, the participant was told to do the same as the experimenter—to choose the higher (or lower) card. For others, they were told to do the opposite. Participants were told to move as quickly and as accurately as possible.
When the participant was supposed to make the same choice as the experimenter, they moved faster when they were also reaching in the same direction as the experimenter. But when they were told to do the opposite of the experimenter—when they had different goals—they didn’t go any faster when making the same movement as the other person. This means having different goals got in the way of the urge to mimic, Ondobaka says.
The researchers think that people only copy each other’s movements when they’re trying to accomplish the same thing. The rest of the time, actions are more related to your internal goals. “We’re not walking around like chameleons copying everything,” Ondobaka says. If you’re on a busy street with dozens of people in view, you’re not copying everything everybody does—just the ones that have the same goal as you. “If a colleague or a friend is going with you, you will cross the street together.”
For more information about this study, please contact: Sasha Ondobaka at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The APS journal Psychological Science is the highest ranked empirical journal in psychology. For a copy of the article "Interplay Between Action and Movement Intentions During Social Interaction" and access to other Psychological Science research findings, please contact Divya Menon at 202-293-9300 or email@example.com.
Divya Menon | EurekAlert!
Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft
Salmonellae are dangerous pathogens that enter the body via contaminated food and can cause severe infections. But these bacteria are also known to target...
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
23.10.2017 | Event News
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
23.10.2017 | Life Sciences
23.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.10.2017 | Health and Medicine