The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: chameleon effect  (Read 5240 times)

Offline Son of Jupiter

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 19
    • View Profile
chameleon effect
« on: 06/01/2006 17:02:59 »
I tend to temporally take on attributes of others while in their presence. For instance I carpool with a co-worker and he stutters, when Im with him I do too, not to the extent he does though. I also tend to mimic other speech patterns, pronunciations, and body language of those who I am with. As soon as either they or I are gone so are the effects.
??????


Io


 

ROBERT

  • Guest
Re: chameleon effect
« Reply #1 on: 11/01/2006 11:22:39 »
Some mirroring behaviour is entirely normal, e.g. contagious yawning, contagious laughter, and occasionally emulating the speech patterns and body language of those we wish to please.
However there is a medical condition where a person excessively mirrors the behaviour of those around them. I believe it is called “Echo personality disorder”.

(I think this a case for DoctorBeaver).
« Last Edit: 11/01/2006 11:27:41 by ROBERT »
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 12656
  • Thanked: 3 times
  • A stitch in time would have confused Einstein.
    • View Profile
Re: chameleon effect
« Reply #2 on: 11/01/2006 14:14:26 »
OK, I'll try. But please bear in mind I haven't looked at this subject much since my undergrad days - and psychology is not 1 of those subjects, like medicine or law, where you have to remember everything you were ever taught (that's why I studied it! :D ).

As Robert has said, echopraxia is an extreme form of the imitative behaviour you describe. However, that is rare & what you describe isn't.
We all imitate. It's 1 of the fundamentals of learning. Imagine trying to teach someone by words alone how to bowl a cricket ball or pitch a baseball. Babies acquire basic skills by imitation: e.g. talking, walking, holding cutlery, etc. So we can say that imitation is a perfectly natural occurrence.
The question is why do some people involuntarily imitate behaviour or speech that is clearly not associated with learning.  

The similarities between the individuals of any given country, social class or group, or community of any kind, can serve to distinguish them from the members of other groups or communities. These similarities are, in general, due to a desire to "fit in with the crowd". For example, a prominent celebrity may sport a unique hairstyle & fans will get their hair cut the same way (the David Beckham look was a classic example). Where people have a closer relationship with each other, this collective similarity extends to not just hairstyles, but also to overall appearance & behaviour. Different groupings of teenagers will tend to dress and behave in a similar way to each other (e.g. hanging around on street corners wearing hoodies & caps). Those who dress or behave differently, while tolerated, would probably not be accepted as an integral part of the group.
In society in general, people who don't fall into line with regard societal norms, or the idiosyncracies of a particular region, are classed as outsiders or eccentrics. From childhood, we are taught that being different is wrong (at least, that is the case with most people).
Furthermore, we feel more relaxed & comfortable with people who are "like us" - those whose behavioural characteristics are like our own. Let's say there's a bar where at 1 end the customers are sitting quietly and at the other end they are noisy & rowdy. If you're a quiet person, chances are you would go to the quiet end of the bar. You would feel uncomfortable, & maybe even threatened, at the rowdy end. On the other hand, if you yourself are noisy & rowdy, you probably wouldn't go to the quiet end.
We also have an innate desire to please others, especially those with whom we have a closer relationship, and to make them feel comfortable: a husband may forego his Saturday night football program so that his wife can watch a weepy-type film.
I believe involuntary imitation has its roots in this innate desire to fit in or please, plus the conditioning from childhood that different is bad. In a 1-to-1 situation, I think the latter is less likely.
With your particular example, it could be either of the 1st 2 reasons. It depends what type of person you are. In general, the more confident we are of our own identity, or the happier we are with who we are, the less likely we are to imitate others. Then again, if you have strong empathy with others, the more likely you are to adapt your own behaviour to make them feel more comfortable.

(as an aside, I wonder if anyone has researched a connection between the degree of imitation in adults and the ages at which they acquired their basic childhood skills?)

Further to all this, there has recently been a bit of excitement about the discovery of "mirror neurons" by Giacomo Rizzolatti and colleagues at the University of Parma, Italy: but rather than going into that I'll just post a link as I've already exhausted my daily intellect quota. [V]

http://www.interdisciplines.org/mirror

 

ROBERT

  • Guest
Re: chameleon effect
« Reply #3 on: 11/01/2006 15:42:57 »
Thank you for applying your grey matter to this matter DoctorBeaver.

There seem to be several echoing / mirroring disorders with varying degrees of severity.
« Last Edit: 11/01/2006 17:20:51 by ROBERT »
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 12656
  • Thanked: 3 times
  • A stitch in time would have confused Einstein.
    • View Profile
Re: chameleon effect
« Reply #4 on: 11/01/2006 16:43:13 »
Indeed there are, Robert. Personally, I think a lot of them are the same thing but in varying degrees of severity.
To be honest, I get a bit fed up with this fad for microcategorising. If someone's got a cold, they've got a cold. It could be a mild 1 or a severe 1 - but it's still just a cold. The "This person's disorder is a bit more pronounced than that person's so we'd better give it a different name" attitude serves no real practical purpose other than to boost the researcher's ego. I also believe it tends to detract from the big picture.
In fact, I think that in life in general we have become too fixated on differences rather than on similarities.
 

ROBERT

  • Guest
Re: chameleon effect
« Reply #5 on: 11/01/2006 17:19:10 »
I was thinking of Io who posted this question, I did not wish him to think that he has schizophrenia,
so I was pointing out that there are lesser forms of echo type disorder than echopraxia.


Echopraxia
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Jump to: navigation, search
Etymology: Greek "echo (repetition)" and "praxia (action)".

Echopraxia is the involuntary repetition or imitation of the observed movements of another. It is a behaviour characteristic of some sufferers of autism, Tourette's syndrome, schizophrenia (especially catatonic schizophrenia), and some other neurological disorders.

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Echopraxia"
« Last Edit: 11/01/2006 17:28:59 by ROBERT »
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 12656
  • Thanked: 3 times
  • A stitch in time would have confused Einstein.
    • View Profile
Re: chameleon effect
« Reply #6 on: 11/01/2006 18:53:29 »
Robert - absolutely. That's why I stated that echopraxia is rare whereas  what Io described is not; the differentiation was implicit in my reply.
As for schizophrenia, iitation is not a particularly common condition with that disorder either.
In fact, there is probably nothing wrong with Io any more serious than an enhanced desire to either fit in or to make others feel comfortable. If I didn't make that clear in my reply, then I apologise.
 

Offline Son of Jupiter

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 19
    • View Profile
Re: chameleon effect
« Reply #7 on: 12/01/2006 03:42:21 »
Those were great answers, thank you both.

Io
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Re: chameleon effect
« Reply #7 on: 12/01/2006 03:42:21 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums