Psychological distance modulates goal-based versus movement-based imitation

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungbegutachtet


In past research on imitation, some findings suggest that imitation is goal based, whereas other findings suggest that imitation can also be based on a direct mapping of a model's movements without necessarily adopting the model's goal. We argue that the 2 forms of imitation are flexibly deployed in accordance with the psychological distance from the model. We specifically hypothesize that individuals are relatively more likely to imitate the model's goals when s/he is distant but relatively more likely to imitate the model's specific movements when s/he is proximal. This hypothesis was tested in 4 experiments using different imitation paradigms and different distance manipulations. Experiment 1 served as a pilot study and demonstrated that temporal distance (vs. proximity) increased imitation of a goal relative to the imitation of a movement. Experiments 2 and 3 measured goal-based and movementbased imitation independently of each other and found that spatial distance (vs. proximity) decreased the rate of goal errors (indicating more goal imitation) compared with movement errors. Experiment 4 demonstrated that psychological distance operates most likely at the input-that is, perceptual-level. The findings are discussed in relation to construal level theory and extant theories of imitation.

ZeitschriftJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Seiten (von - bis)1031-1048
Anzahl der Seiten18
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 08.2019
Extern publiziertJa

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© 2019 American Psychological Association.