Social scientists have long been intrigued by the human tendency to mimic the behavior of others. Now, a new study from the April issue of the Journal of Consumer Research expands the field, exploring the potential for mimicry to influence product consumption.
The researchers find that watching someone else eat a certain food—in this case, either goldfish crackers or animal crackers – will cause the viewer to be inclined to eat the same thing. Additionally, in another experiment, participants who had their posture and speech mimicked by a salesperson rated the product higher and consumed more of it.
In the first study, participants were seated in front of a computer in a private lab room and asked to watch a video of a fellow participant (actually someone who was a part of the study) describing a series of ads while occasionally taking goldfish or animal crackers from a bowl. Bowls of both goldfish and animal crackers were present, but the subject in the video only took from one of the two bowls the entire time.
Some participants also had two bowls of food in front of them, one filled with goldfish crackers and the other with animal crackers. Those who watched a person eat goldfish crackers took from the goldfish bowl 71 percent of the time. Those who watched a person eat animal crackers only took from the goldfish bowl 44 percent of the time. Importantly, a pre-rating among participants found that goldfish crackers were preferred over animal crackers, on average.
“A person who views someone else’s snacking behavior will come to exhibit a similar snack selection pattern,” explain Robin J. Tanner (Duke University), Rosellina Ferraro (University of Maryland), Tanya L. Chartrand (Duke University), James R. Bettman (Duke University), and Rick Van Baaren (University of Amsterdam).
“This suggests that preferences may shift as a result of unintentionally mimicking another person’s consumption behavior.”
In another experiment, the researchers examined whether a person who is mimicked would come to like that person more than they would otherwise, and whether that would lead to a more positive response towards a product endorsed by the mimicker. Participants who had their posture, body angle, foot movements, and verbal patterns mimicked rated a new sports drink more positively and drank more of the sports drink than participants who were not mimicked. A separate experiment showed that the positive ratings and the amount consumed was even higher when the mimicker expressly stated that he or she was invested in the success of the product.
“This suggests that mimicry has the potential to be a valuable tool in interpersonal persuasion, particularly in cases where the motivations and persuasive intent of the mimicker are transparent,” the researchers write. “So, even though consumers might try to resist a salesperson’s pitch, being mimicked by that salesperson makes that pitch more impacting.”
Robin J. Tanner, Rosellina Ferraro, Tanya L. Chartrand, James R. Bettman, and Rick Van Baaren, “Of Chameleons and Consumption: The Impact of Mimicry on Choice and Preferences.” Journal of Consumer Research: April 2008.
Suzanne Wu | EurekAlert!
Drought hits rivers first and more strongly than agriculture
06.09.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie
Landslides triggered by human activity on the rise
23.08.2018 | European Geosciences Union
The building blocks of matter in our universe were formed in the first 10 microseconds of its existence, according to the currently accepted scientific picture. After the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago, matter consisted mainly of quarks and gluons, two types of elementary particles whose interactions are governed by quantum chromodynamics (QCD), the theory of strong interaction. In the early universe, these particles moved (nearly) freely in a quark-gluon plasma.
This is a joint press release of University Muenster and Heidelberg as well as the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt.
Then, in a phase transition, they combined and formed hadrons, among them the building blocks of atomic nuclei, protons and neutrons. In the current issue of...
Thin-film solar cells made of crystalline silicon are inexpensive and achieve efficiencies of a good 14 percent. However, they could do even better if their shiny surfaces reflected less light. A team led by Prof. Christiane Becker from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) has now patented a sophisticated new solution to this problem.
"It is not enough simply to bring more light into the cell," says Christiane Becker. Such surface structures can even ultimately reduce the efficiency by...
A study in the journal Bulletin of Marine Science describes a new, blood-red species of octocoral found in Panama. The species in the genus Thesea was discovered in the threatened low-light reef environment on Hannibal Bank, 60 kilometers off mainland Pacific Panama, by researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama (STRI) and the Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR) at the University of Costa Rica.
Scientists established the new species, Thesea dalioi, by comparing its physical traits, such as branch thickness and the bright red colony color, with the...
Scientists have succeeded in observing the first long-distance transfer of information in a magnetic group of materials known as antiferromagnets.
An international team of researchers has mapped Nemo's genome, providing the research community with an invaluable resource to decode the response of fish to...
03.09.2018 | Event News
27.08.2018 | Event News
17.08.2018 | Event News
20.09.2018 | Earth Sciences
20.09.2018 | Earth Sciences
20.09.2018 | Physics and Astronomy