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Automatic imitation in a rich social context with virtual characters

Pan, X; Hamilton, AF; (2015) Automatic imitation in a rich social context with virtual characters. Frontiers in Psychology , 6 , Article 790. 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00790. Green open access

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Abstract

It has been well established that people respond faster when they perform an action that is congruent with an observed action than when they respond with an incongruent action. Here we propose a new method of using interactive Virtual Characters (VCs) to test if social congruency effects can be obtained in a richer social context with sequential hand-arm actions. Two separate experiments were conducted, exploring if it is feasible to measure spatial congruency (Experiment 1) and anatomical congruency (Experiment 2) in response to a VC, compared to the same action sequence indicated by three virtual balls. In Experiment 1, we found a robust spatial congruency effect for both VC and virtual balls, modulated by a social facilitation effect for participants who felt the VC was human. In Experiment 2 which allowed for anatomical congruency, a form by congruency interaction provided evidence that participants automatically imitate the actions of the VC but do not imitate the balls. Our method and results build a bridge between studies using minimal stimuli in automatic interaction and studies of mimicry in a rich social interaction, and open new research venue for future research in the area of automatic imitation with a more ecologically valid social interaction.

Type: Article
Title: Automatic imitation in a rich social context with virtual characters
Location: Switzerland
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00790
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00790
Language: English
Additional information: © 2015 Pan and Hamilton. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Keywords: action sequencing, automatic imitation, social facilitation effect, virtual characters, virtual reality
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
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 > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Computer Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1472142
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