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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Divya Menon | EurekAlert!
Self-organising system enables motile cells to form complex search pattern
07.05.2019 | Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
Mouse studies show minimally invasive route can accurately administer drugs to brain
02.05.2019 | Johns Hopkins Medicine
Engineers at the University of Tokyo continually pioneer new ways to improve battery technology. Professor Atsuo Yamada and his team recently developed a...
With a quantum coprocessor in the cloud, physicists from Innsbruck, Austria, open the door to the simulation of previously unsolvable problems in chemistry, materials research or high-energy physics. The research groups led by Rainer Blatt and Peter Zoller report in the journal Nature how they simulated particle physics phenomena on 20 quantum bits and how the quantum simulator self-verified the result for the first time.
Many scientists are currently working on investigating how quantum advantage can be exploited on hardware already available today. Three years ago, physicists...
'Quantum technologies' utilise the unique phenomena of quantum superposition and entanglement to encode and process information, with potentially profound benefits to a wide range of information technologies from communications to sensing and computing.
However a major challenge in developing these technologies is that the quantum phenomena are very fragile, and only a handful of physical systems have been...
Working group led by physicist Professor Ulrich Nowak at the University of Konstanz, in collaboration with a team of physicists from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, demonstrates how skyrmions can be used for the computer concepts of the future
When it comes to performing a calculation destined to arrive at an exact result, humans are hopelessly inferior to the computer. In other areas, humans are...
Scientists develop a molecular recording tool that enables in vivo lineage tracing of embryonic cells
The beginning of new life starts with a fascinating process: A single cell gives rise to progenitor cells that eventually differentiate into the three germ...
29.04.2019 | Event News
17.04.2019 | Event News
15.04.2019 | Event News
20.05.2019 | Materials Sciences
20.05.2019 | Life Sciences
20.05.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering