The Depleted Chameleon: Behavioral Contagion and Self-Regulation

Amy Dalton, Duke University
Tanya L. Chartrand, Duke University
Eli J. Finkel, Northwestern University
Interaction partners tend to mimic each other’s nonverbal behaviors without awareness or intent, but what happens when mimicry is poorly coordinated? For instance, if an interactant fails to mimic her partner, how is her partner affected? We propose and find that whether or not interaction partners are coordinated behaviorally can impact success at self-control. This effect is attributed to schema-violation: schema-consistent patterns of mimicry preserve regulatory resources, while schema-inconsistent patterns of mimicry deplete these resources. Consequently, when mimicry is the norm, its absence will render an otherwise-efficient interaction more taxing. In this way, an individual’s nonverbal behaviors can compromise an interaction partner’s success at self-control.
[ to cite ]:
Amy Dalton, Tanya L. Chartrand, and Eli J. Finkel (2008) ,"The Depleted Chameleon: Behavioral Contagion and Self-Regulation", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 35, eds. Angela Y. Lee and Dilip Soman, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 109-111.