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Social mimicry is the ubiquitous tendency to copy the bodily movements, expressions, postures and speech patterns of an interaction partner. Since the 1990s social psychologists have studied this phenomenon intensively and have revealed many interesting findings about the factors that moderate mimicry and its consequences. Recently, social cognitive neuroscientists have also begun to study mimicry, with an emphasis on uncovering its mechanistic underpinnings. In particular, mechanisms that have been studied in tasks such as action observation and automatic imitation have been assumed to play a role in social mimicry. Although intuitive, the notion that these mechanisms are common to both tightly controlled laboratory tasks and more naturalistic social mimicry is an assumption that requires empirical investigation. Here, I present recent work that begins to provide this missing empirical link. I contextualize this work with respect to both the social psychology and the cognitive neuroscience literatures.
Socially situated thought and behaviour are pervasive and vitally important in human society. The social brain has become a focus of study for researchers in the neurosciences, psychology, biology and other areas of behavioural science, and it is becoming increasingly clear that social behaviour is heavily dependent on shared representations. Any social activity, from a simple conversation to a well-drilled military exercise to an exquisitely perfected dance routine, involves information sharing between the brains of those involved. This volume comprises a collection of cutting-edge essays centred on the idea of shared representations, broadly defined. Featuring contributions from established world leaders in their fields and written in a simultaneously accessible and detailed style, this is an invaluable resource for established researchers and those who are new to the field.
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