Automatic imitation of in- and out-group members

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Description: Individuals have the automatic tendency to imitate each other. A key prediction of motivational theories explaining automatic imitation is that individuals imitate in-group members more strongly than out-group members. However, the empirical basis for this prediction is rather inconclusive. Only few experiments have investigated the influence of group membership using classic automatic imitation paradigms and these experiments led to mixed results. To put the group membership prediction to a critical test, we carried out six high-powered experiments (total N = 1,538) in which we assessed imitation with the imitation-inhibition task and manipulated group membership in different ways. Evidence across all experiments indicates that group- membership does not modulate automatic imitation. These results have important implications for motivational theories explaining automatic imitation and contribute to the current discussion of whether automatic imitation can be socially modulated.

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