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Chameleons and copycats: How mimicry affects interpersonal persuasion
Date:2/12/2008

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 foodin 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 elses 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 persons consumption behavior.

In another experiment, th
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Contact: Suzanne Wu
swu@press.uchicago.edu
209-608-2038
University of Chicago Press Journals
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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