Automatic imitation of physically impossible movements
SourceSocial Cognition, 28, 1, (2010), pp. 59-73
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI SCP
SubjectBehaviour Change and Well-being
Motor priming refers to the direct matching of an observed action onto the observer's motor repertoire (lacoboni et al., 1999) leading to a tendency to automatically reproduce the action. Recent research has shown diminished automatic imitation when observing nonbiological agents, biomechanically impossible actions, and non-intentionally produced actions. However, the question of whether automatic imitation also occurs for physically impossible actions remains open We found motor priming effects of the same size for both physically possible and impossible movements in a choice-reaction task paradigm (Experiment 1). Both physically possible and impossible movements also elicited identical motor priming effects when attention was drawn to the difference between possible and impossible movements (Experiment 2). While previous research clearly showed a sensitivity of the automatic imitation system to biological plausibility and attributed intentionality, the present findings show its insensitivity to physical plausibility, a finding that remains unaffected by top-down influences.
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