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The Chameleon Effect

- Monday 13th April 2015

An article in the Spring 2015 Magazine of the British Neuroscience Association describes recent research showing how our brains are able to imitate others. This suggests in part how we learn from others, by simply imitating. An example of this in action is a child learning to tie shoe laces and many other tasks we learn by watching and trying ourselves.

More interestingly, the research is indicating that imitation may have a social cohesion benefit. It discusses now we tend to imitate others body language and movements during a conversation (this is called the chameleon effect!). Our brains will even cause us to “over-imitate” even when the action being imitated has no practical benefit, other than demonstrating allegiance or paying attention.

This has some fascinating implications for leaders and team members as they adjust their verbal style and body language to show empathy with colleagues. Or one might argue, serious implications for those who do not pay attention to such matters.

These findings may in part explain the incredibly quick performance improvements we see when we work with clients using Emergenetics, helping people to adjust their behaviours to the preferences of other people they are working with.

We await further results from the research with interest.