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Self-categorization as a basis of behavioural mimicry: Experiments in The Hive

Neville, FG; Drury, J; Reicher, SD; Choudhury, S; Stott, C; Ball, R; Richardson, DC; (2020) Self-categorization as a basis of behavioural mimicry: Experiments in The Hive. PLOS ONE , 15 (10) , Article e0241227. 10.1371/journal.pone.0241227. Green open access

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Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Do we always do what others do, and, if not, when and under what conditions do we do so? In this paper we test the hypothesis that mimicry is moderated by the mere knowledge of whether the source is a member of the same social category as ourselves. METHODS: We investigated group influence on mimicry using three tasks on a software platform which interfaces with mobile computing devices to allow the controlled study of collective behaviour in an everyday environment. RESULTS: Overall, participants (N = 965) were influenced by the movements of confederates (represented as dots on a screen) who belonged to their own category in both purposive and incidental tasks. CONCLUSION: Our results are compatible with collective level explanations of social influence premised on shared social identification. This includes both a heuristic of unintended mimicry (the acts of group members are diagnostic of how one should act), and communication of affiliation (based on a desire to make one's group cohesive). The results are incompatible with traditional 'contagion' accounts which suggest mimicry is automatic and inevitable. The results have practical implications for designing behavioural interventions which can harness the power of copying behaviour, for example in emergency evacuations.

Type: Article
Title: Self-categorization as a basis of behavioural mimicry: Experiments in The Hive
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0241227
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0241227
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2020 Neville et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: Imitation, Behavior, Social influence, Decision making, Personality, Collective human behavior, Bayesian method, Animal sociality
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10116208
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