Social Mimicry Mechanism | Free Essay Example

Social Mimicry Mechanism

Words: 1468
Topic: Psychology


This paper explores aspects related to how individuals utilize their dominant side when it comes to instances involving the social mimicry of actions. In order examine such an aspect of unconscious action; the researcher conducted a study involving the use of 63 research subjects and the game “Simon says…” By observing the actions of the research participants it was determined that when it comes to instances of unconscious emulation, people did indeed favor their more dominant side.


Based on the research of Rick (2009) it was seen that people tend to have a habit of unconscious mimicry in social situations which can take the form of either physical forms of mimicry (i.e. using the same gestures, moving in the same manner and other forms of physical imitation) or verbal mimicry (i.e. pronouncing words in the same manner and with the same intonation or other such similar methods of verbal communication (Rick, 2009). It is assumed by Stephanie & Brent (2008) that this type of behavior is a form of internalized psychological response mechanism that developed over time in order to enable better cooperation among individuals within a social or community setting due to the level of familiarity in visual and verbal responses that are recognized (Stephanie & Brent, 2008).

Explaining the Mimicry Mechanism

Studies such as those by Sanchez-Burks (2002) show that people tend to be more comfortable around the familiar and are more inclined towards cooperative behavior under such circumstances as compared to instances where they are confronted with something which is totally unfamiliar (Sanchez-Burks, 2002). Thus, this would explain why this particular type of “mimicry mechanism” developed in the first place since it acts as a means of facilitating cooperation which is an important aspect of most forms societal development (Sims et al., 2012).

Variability due to Left side or Right side Dominance

Before proceeding any further, it must be noted that despite having this particular of “mimicry mechanism” in place, there is still a certain degree of variability in the way in which people mimic certain actions (i.e. the method of mimicry is not exact) (Gamberale-Stille et al., 2012). One of the reasons hypothesized by Bilodeau et al. (2009) is that since people tend to favor particular sides of the body (i.e. are left side or right side dominant) then certain individuals would interpret particular actions under the influence of that particular side of brain resulting in a certain degree of action variability due to the difference in favored sides by various individuals (Bilodeau et al., 2009).


It must be questioned whether this process of mimicry undergoes any changes when placed in a situation where a person is intentionally told to perform a particular action. Would that individual perform based on what they see or unconsciously engage in actions that utilize the dominant side of the body? This is what this study will attempt to examine through the use of various participants in order to examine the degree in which the dominant half of the body plays a part in influencing the type of physical mimicry that is being asked of them. It is thus the hypothesis of this study that when people are engaged in mimicry, they will unconsciously use the dominant side of the body.


Research question: When people are engaged in a mimicry, do they use the same side or opposite side of the body?

Research Subjects

In order to answer this question the researcher recruited 63 individuals from around the school as the research subjects for this experiment. Prior to conducting the data collection procedure the research subjects were briefed about the tasks that they were expected to accomplish however they were not informed about the nature of the study or the why they were doing the tasks asked of them. This was done in order to preserve the validity of the research results from undue internal influences by the research subjects.

The research subjects also asked not to be identified should this particular presentation be made in front of a class due to supposed “embarrassment” from having performed the actions. Though the researcher found this rather strange their request was taken into due consideration and as such their names have not been placed within this report. Before proceeding it must be noted that 60 percent of the participants are left handed while only 40 percent were right handed.


The experiment for this particular study was pretty straight forward, the research participant were each asked to individually participate in a game of “Simon Says” wherein they were tasked to emulate the orders of “Simon” after the phrase “Simon says….” is utilized. In order to add a certain degree of variability to the study results, the phrases given by “Simon” consisted of a mixture of those containing “Simon says..” or were merely a direct order. Since the object of the game is to only follow when “Simon” says “Simon says….” this introduces an uncertain factor to the research results which focuses on the unconscious reflexes of the research subjects that are participating. Not only that, in the latter half of the experiment “Simon” will begin acting out particular actions in order to see the degree of mimicry that ensues as a direct result of the introduction of this variable.

Time Limit

Since this particular experiment is after the unconscious way in which people mimic actions it was done with a certain time limit in mind wherein “Simon” did not allow the research subjects to fully process the orders with their conscious mind and instead focused on getting them to utilize their unconscious reflexes. This was done through the introduction of a 10 to 15 second interval between the various orders given.

Recording Data

The researcher will be standing to the side recording all actions undertaken while the experiment is being conducted.

Can it be replicated?

Given the same number of participants, the “Simon says..” order sheet used and enough time this particular experiment can be easily replicated by another researcher.




/VARIABLES=control left right


Mean and standard deviation

One-Sample Statistics
N Mean Std. Deviation Std. Error Mean
control 63 4.2381 1.58332 .19948
left 63 4.5556 1.50030 .18902
right 63 3.8730 1.45349 .18312


One-Sample Test
Test Value = 3
t df Sig. (2-tailed) Mean Difference 95% Confidence Interval of the Difference
Lower Upper
control 6.207 62 .000 1.23810 .8393 1.6369
left 8.230 62 .000 1.55556 1.1777 1.9334
right 4.767 62 .000 .87302 .5070 1.2391


The results of the data showed that for majority of the time during the “Simon says” game, the research participants utilized the dominant half of their body as either the primary response mechanism when given a command or when “Simon” performed an action and the research subject emulated it. Based on this it can be seen that the hypothesis presented at the start of this paper was accurate in that people did tend to favor their dominant half when performing unconscious mimicry.


Despite the research findings validating the results of the study, it must still be questioned why people tend to favor their dominant side while mimicking. The research of Bilodeau et al. (2009) does shed some light on this by stating that since people tend to favor particular sides of the body (i.e. are left side or right side dominant) then certain individuals would interpret particular actions under the influence of that particular side of brain resulting in a certain degree of action variability due to the difference in favored sides by various individuals (Bilodeau et al.,2009).

When taking into consideration the fact that when “Simon” in the experiment sped up the rate in which orders were given and performed the actions himself, the rate by which people apparently relied on reaction rather than cognitive thought increased. From this particular perspective it can be assumed that since mimicry is not part of direct cognitive thought and is in fact an unconscious reflexive action with the dominant half of an individual being the most in tune to reflexive action and immediate response then it can be concluded that due to its attributes of being more prone to reflex and response, then the dominant half of the body would thus be the most likely “instrument” by which the mimicry mechanism would manifest itself in.


Based on the date presented the original hypothesis of this experiment that when people are engaged in mimicry, they will unconsciously use the dominant side of the body has been proven to be accurate. Though this experiment has been done numerous times in the past and does not really contribute that extensively to current prevailing literature, it does at least give a rather interesting insight into the way in which we subconsciously imitate those around us.

Reference List

Bilodeau, M., Bisson, É., DeGrâce, D., Després, I., & Johnson, M. (2009). Muscle activation characteristics associated with differences in physiological tremor amplitude between the dominant and non-dominant hand. Journal Of Electromyography & Kinesiology, 19(1), 131-138.

Gamberale-Stille, G., Balogh, A. V., Tullberg, B. S., & Leimar, O. (2012). Feature saltation and the evolution of mimicry. Evolution, 66(3), 807-817

Rick, B. (2009). Where is the love? The social aspects of mimicry. Philosophical Transactions Of The Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 364(1528), 2381-2389.

Sanchez-Burks, J. (2002). Protestant Relational Ideology and (In)Attention to Relational Cues in Work Settings. Journal Of Personality & Social Psychology, 83(4), 919.

Sims, T. B., Van Reekum, C. M., Johnstone, T., & Chakrabarti, B. (2012). How reward modulates mimicry: EMG evidence of greater facial mimicry of more rewarding happy faces. Psychophysiology, 49(7), 998-1004.

Stephanie D., P., & Brent R., S. (2008). I know how you feel: Task-irrelevant facial expressions are spontaneously processed at a semantic level. Cognitive, Affective & Behavioral Neuroscience, 8(1), 54-64.