Attention on the source of influence reverses the impact of cross-contextual imitation

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Recent investigations of imitation have demonstrated that individuals imitate a primed movement across contexts. For example, when tasting a drink, individuals who observe an athlete lifting a barbell raise their arms to their mouths more often, thus increasing their drink intake because both actions (i.e., weight lifting and drinking) involve the same movements. Other research on semantic priming suggests that individuals often act in the opposite direction of the primed information when their attention is directed toward the source of influence. In one experiment, we tested whether focusing participants' attention on the source of influence leads to such correction processes in a cross-contextual imitation setting as well. Replicating the basic cross-contextual imitation effect, we found that participants whose attention was not directed toward the source of influence drank more when observing an athlete lifting a barbell than when observing an athlete pushing a barbell. However, when participants' attention was directed toward the source of influence, they acted in the opposite direction so strongly that they drank more when watching the pushing movement than when watching the lifting movement.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)904-907
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 06.2014
Externally publishedYes

    Research areas

  • Imitation, Influence awareness, Priming, Stimulus-response compatibility
  • Business psychology