Covert and overt automatic imitation are correlated

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Most theoretical accounts of imitation assume that covert and overt measures of automatic imitation tap into the same underlying construct. Despite this widespread assumption, it is not well supported by empirical evidence. In fact, the only study investigating the relation between covert and overt automatic imitation failed to find a correlation between them (Genschow et al., 2017, PLOS ONE, 12[9], Article e0183784). However, because overt and covert imitation were measured using two very different tasks, and because the measure of overt imitation was found to be unreliable, it is still not clear whether a correlation between both measures exists. Here, we address this question by reanalyzing the results of a previous virtual reality study in which automatic imitation was indexed with an overt and covert measure of gaze following, both obtained within one and the same task (Cracco et al., 2022, IScience, Article 104891). The results show that, in this situation, both types of imitation do correlate. As such, our results provide support for the idea that overt and covert measures of automatic imitation measure the same underlying construct.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27.11.2023

Bibliographical note

Study procedures, sample size, and exclusion
criteria were preregistered ( Data are
available on the OSF (

Funding Information:
E.C. was supported by a postdoctoral fellowship awarded by the Research Foundation Flanders (12U0322N). M.B. was supported by an Einstein Strategic Professorship of the Einstein Foundation Berlin.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Psychonomic Society, Inc.

    Research areas

  • Automatic imitation, Gaze following, Validity
  • Psychology