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10. Other People: Hacks 93–100 > 98. Monkey See, Monkey Do

Monkey See, Monkey Do

We mimic accents, gestures, and mannerisms without even noticing, and it seems it’s the mere act of perception that triggers it.

We’re born imitators, even without knowing we’re doing it. I have a British accent, but whenever I spend a couple of weeks in North America, I start to pick up the local pronunciation. It’s the same with hanging around certain groups of friends and ending up using words common in that group without realizing I’m picking them up.

Imitation doesn’t require immersion in a culture. You can start mirroring people’s movements without realizing it in moments.

In Action

I find a lot of psychology experiments a little mean, because they often involve telling the participants the experiment is about one thing, when actually it’s about something else entirely. Tanya Chartrand and John Bargh’s experiments on what they dub the Chameleon Effect fall into this category of keeping the participants in the dark (but are harmless enough not to be mean). 1


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