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The Social Neuroscience of Empathy$
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Jean Decety and William Ickes

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780262012973

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262012973.001.0001

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Being Imitated: Consequences of Nonconsciously Showing Empathy

Being Imitated: Consequences of Nonconsciously Showing Empathy

(p.31) 3 Being Imitated: Consequences of Nonconsciously Showing Empathy
The Social Neuroscience of Empathy

Rick B. van Baaren

Jean Decety

Ap Dijksterhuis

Andries van de Leij

Matthijs L. van Leeuwen

The MIT Press

Numerous studies in the fields of social psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, and social neuroscience have provided evidence of automatic imitation in humans, including preverbal children. People have a tendency to automatically and nonconsciously mimic the behaviors and mannerisms of their interaction partners, from face-rubbing and footshaking to touching one’s hair and playing with a pen. Other behaviors that are automatically imitated are laughter, mood, yawning, and various speech variables. This chapter explores the relation between imitation and empathy. It first provides an overview of the automaticity of imitation before discussing how imitation is linked to empathy. It also considers the prosocial effects of being imitated, the relation between mimicry and cognitive style, and the social neuroscience of being imitated.

Keywords:   imitation, empathy, prosocial effects, mimicry, cognitive style, social neuroscience, psychology, behaviors, mannerisms

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