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An empirical analysis of the methodology of automatic imitation research in a strategic context

Aczel, Balazs; Kekecs, Zoltan LU ; Bago, Bence; Szollosi, Aba and Foldes, Andrei (2015) In Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 41(4). p.1049-1062
Abstract

Since the discovery of the mirror neuron system, it has been proposed that the automatic tendency to copy observed actions exists in humans and that this mechanism might be responsible for a range of social behavior. A strong argument for automatic behavior can be made when actions are executed against motivation to do otherwise. Strategic games in which imitation is disadvantageous serve as ideal designs for studying the automatic nature of participants' behavior. Most recently, Belot, Crawford, and Heyes (2013) conducted an explorative study using a modified version of the Rock-Paper-Scissors game, and suggested that in the case of asynchrony in the execution of the gestures, automatic imitation can be observed early on after the... (More)

Since the discovery of the mirror neuron system, it has been proposed that the automatic tendency to copy observed actions exists in humans and that this mechanism might be responsible for a range of social behavior. A strong argument for automatic behavior can be made when actions are executed against motivation to do otherwise. Strategic games in which imitation is disadvantageous serve as ideal designs for studying the automatic nature of participants' behavior. Most recently, Belot, Crawford, and Heyes (2013) conducted an explorative study using a modified version of the Rock-Paper-Scissors game, and suggested that in the case of asynchrony in the execution of the gestures, automatic imitation can be observed early on after the opponent's presentation. In our study, we video recorded the games, which allowed us to examine the effect of delay on imitative behavior as well as the sensitivity of the previously employed analyses. The examination of the recorded images revealed that more than 80% of the data were irrelevant to the study of automatic behavior. Additional bias in the paradigm became apparent, as previously presented gestures were found to affect the behavior of the players. After noise filtering, we found no evidence of automatic imitation in either the whole filtered data set or in selected time windows based on delay length. Besides questioning the strength of the results of previous analyses, we propose several experimental and statistical modifications for further research on automatic imitation.

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author
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Action control, Automatic imitation, Matching pennies game, Mirror neurons, Strategic context
in
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
volume
41
issue
4
pages
14 pages
publisher
American Psychological Association (APA)
external identifiers
  • scopus:84938210891
ISSN
0096-1523
DOI
10.1037/xhp0000081
language
English
LU publication?
no
id
feac2a4e-08dd-4e44-94f9-66da86a3edd3
date added to LUP
2017-03-27 15:52:47
date last changed
2017-04-10 10:29:52
@article{feac2a4e-08dd-4e44-94f9-66da86a3edd3,
  abstract     = {<p>Since the discovery of the mirror neuron system, it has been proposed that the automatic tendency to copy observed actions exists in humans and that this mechanism might be responsible for a range of social behavior. A strong argument for automatic behavior can be made when actions are executed against motivation to do otherwise. Strategic games in which imitation is disadvantageous serve as ideal designs for studying the automatic nature of participants' behavior. Most recently, Belot, Crawford, and Heyes (2013) conducted an explorative study using a modified version of the Rock-Paper-Scissors game, and suggested that in the case of asynchrony in the execution of the gestures, automatic imitation can be observed early on after the opponent's presentation. In our study, we video recorded the games, which allowed us to examine the effect of delay on imitative behavior as well as the sensitivity of the previously employed analyses. The examination of the recorded images revealed that more than 80% of the data were irrelevant to the study of automatic behavior. Additional bias in the paradigm became apparent, as previously presented gestures were found to affect the behavior of the players. After noise filtering, we found no evidence of automatic imitation in either the whole filtered data set or in selected time windows based on delay length. Besides questioning the strength of the results of previous analyses, we propose several experimental and statistical modifications for further research on automatic imitation.</p>},
  author       = {Aczel, Balazs and Kekecs, Zoltan and Bago, Bence and Szollosi, Aba and Foldes, Andrei},
  issn         = {0096-1523},
  keyword      = {Action control,Automatic imitation,Matching pennies game,Mirror neurons,Strategic context},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {08},
  number       = {4},
  pages        = {1049--1062},
  publisher    = {American Psychological Association (APA)},
  series       = {Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance},
  title        = {An empirical analysis of the methodology of automatic imitation research in a strategic context},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xhp0000081},
  volume       = {41},
  year         = {2015},
}