Automatic imitation of pro- and antisocial gestures: Is implicit social behavior censored?

08:00 EDT 10th October 2017 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "Automatic imitation of pro- and antisocial gestures: Is implicit social behavior censored?"

According to social reward theories, automatic imitation can be understood as a means to obtain positive social consequences. In line with this view, it has been shown that automatic imitation is modulated by contextual variables that constrain the positive outcomes of imitation. However, this work has largely neglected that many gestures have an inherent pro- or antisocial meaning. As a result of their meaning, antisocial gestures are considered taboo and should not be used in public. In three experiments, we show that automatic imitation of symbolic gestures is modulated by the social intent of these gestures. Experiment 1 (N=37) revealed reduced automatic imitation of antisocial compared with prosocial gestures. Experiment 2 (N=118) and Experiment 3 (N=118) used a social priming procedure to show that this effect was stronger in a prosocial context than in an antisocial context. These findings were supported in a within-study meta-analysis using both frequentist and Bayesian statistics. Together, our results indicate that automatic imitation is regulated by internalized social norms that act as a stop signal when inappropriate actions are triggered.


Journal Details

This article was published in the following journal.

Name: Cognition
ISSN: 1873-7838
Pages: 179-189


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