Straight Angle™: Chameleon Effect!!
Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Chameleon Effect!! 

Got some real fundu stuff to post on!!...Have you ever wondered why some strangers strike a rapport with us but yet others are not preceived so favourably. May be this article has some clues in it. The book Meme Machine also starts off with the intial postulate of what is difference between Humans and animals. The most interesting part of that is the human's inate ability to mimic others. The book says that animals do mimic, but they had to be trained for that...But Humans are the only species that mimic voluntarily and the ability to learn by mimicing is what the author(Susan Balckmore) describes as the reason for many of the stuff that goes into becoming a Meme.
"Memes are what is passed on when we imitate someone -- and can be "an idea, an instruction, a behaviour, a piece of information." Human imitation takes on many forms -- from copying gestures to retelling stories to adopting ideas. Memes can be considered the determinants of culture, successfully reproducing themselves and adapting to their surroundings to insure that they can continue to reproduce"..
This reproduction (in a cultural sense), is a result of mimiking the ancestors. By continuously mimicking our predecessors, the human race has been able to built a complete repository of beliefs, tradition and on the whole culture. Genes are very successful replicators and may be its in our genes that we rate people who copy us more than people who take their own route.

As the article points out in the strating, a sales man's strategy would be to replicate the customer's movements and body language to make a positive impression on him. This might also influence the customer's opinion about what the salesman is saying. This effect is popularly known as "Chameleon Effect". It can be effectively used in a range of situations, from Political campaigns to sales pitches. The research conducted by the Standford University throws more interesting stuff on this behaviour. The students that were the respondents of the research carried a better(in terms of friendliness, being interesting, more honest and persuasive) impressions about those mimicing agents, than those that didnt mimic. The agents in the experiments were not humans, but computers programmed to mimic the respondents body language. If humans can be fooled by a computer mimicing their behaviour, think of what can men do to their fellow inmates of this earth!!


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