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Imitation in one's own presence: No specific effect of self-focus on imitation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article number103194
JournalActa Psychologica
Accepted/In press3 Oct 2020
PublishedJan 2021

King's Authors


Previous studies have reported that imitative responses may be modulated by top-down social factors such as self-focus. However, growing evidence suggests that such social factors may actually modulate domain-general processes such as spatially compatible responding, rather than specifically social processes such as imitation. In this study, we aimed to identify the cognitive processes being modulated under conditions of heightened or diminished self-focus. Participants performed a stimulus-response compatibility task which independently measures both spatial and imitative response tendencies, under two conditions: heightened self-focus, where the task was performed in the presence of two mirrors; and diminished self-focus, where the mirrors were covered. While participants were faster to respond to compatible trials than to incompatible trials, both imitatively and spatially, there was no significant modulation of either spatial or imitative compatibility by self-focus; although the magnitude of the modulation of spatial compatibility was numerically similar to the effect of self-focus on imitation found in previous studies. These results provide no evidence for an effect of self-focus on either social-specific, or domain-general, processes.

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