ScienceShot: Copycats Make Democrats

Is someone imitating you? It might make you more likely to vote for a Democrat. Psychologists asked 62 students to talk to someone disguised as another student who, in some cases, subtly imitated the volunteer's facial expressions, head movements, body posture, and gestures. Of the 33 students who were mimicked, 28 reported they would vote for a left-leaning party if an election were held right then, about 10% more than had previously voted for a politically left party. Of the 29 students who weren't mimicked, 18 said they would vote for a left-leaning party, 10% fewer than had previously voted for such a party. Other studies have shown that mimicry makes people more empathetic and more likely to focus on their relationships with others. That may translate into voting for more liberal parties, the team reports online this month in Experimental Psychology. Don't expect mimicry as a campaign tactic too soon, though. The authors haven't yet studied whether a politician mimicking you has the same effect.

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