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In: Business and Management

Submitted By ontokonto
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Mimicry and Prosocial Behavior
Social psychologists have long been interested in factors that influence prosocial behavior–that is, actions that benefit individuals and society, such as helping others in need. The purpose of three experiments by van Baaren and his colleagues (2004) was to examine the role of mimicry, or copying another person’s body movements. In each experiment, participants were interviewed individually by an experimenter and the participant described his or her reactions to 10 advertisements (not the true purpose of the research). One group of participants was randomly assigned to the mimicry condition, in which the experimenter mimicked (copied) the participant’s posture, body orientation (e.g., leaning forward or backward), and arm and leg positions during the interview. Participants randomly assigned to the control condition were not mimicked. After the interview, the dependent variable (prosociality) was assessed. In the first experiment, the interviewer “accidentally” dropped six pens and then noted whether the participant helped by picking up the pens. Results indicated that all of the participants in the mimic condition picked up the pens, whereas only 33% of the participants in the control participants helped by picking up the pens. The researchers then sought to determine whether these prosocial effects of mimicry would generalize to helping a different person. In their second experiment they manipulated the same independent variable (mimic condition and control condition), but after the interview a new experimenter entered the room and accidentally dropped pens. Results replicated the findings for the effects of mimicry: 84% of participants in the mimic condition picked up the new experimenter’s pens, compared to 48% of control participants. In their third experiment, van Baaren et al. (2004) used a 2 × 2 complex design to manipulate mimicry with the same two levels as in their first two experiments. They also manipulated in this design who requested help, the original experimenter (interviewer) or a new experimenter who entered the room after the interview. Thus, rather than manipulating this variable across two different experiments, as they did in Experiments 1 and 2, they factorially combined this variable with the mimicry variable. The dependent variable was different. After receiving payment for their research participation ($20), participants were asked if they were interested in donating any money to a children’s charity (by either the original experimenter or a new experimenter). The dependent variable was the amount donated. Results of their study replicated the effects of the first two experiments: (1) compared to a control condition, mimicry produced greater helping and (2) helping was greater for the original experimenter compared to the new experimenter. Finally, the pattern of means supported a possible interaction effect in which the effect of mimicry was greater for the original experimenter than the new experimenter.…...

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