Undergraduate Psychology Research Methods Journal


This is a research proposal for a study on the empathetic imitation of models on television. Imitation as an extension of social conformity and learning through mimicry is one of the deepest assumptions of modern social-psychological theory. There has been much evidence in recent years to support that mirror neurons, the biological factor that allows human and ape brains neurologically interpret and incorporate the actions of others, are situational in what actions they empathetically attempt to encode (Hodges, 2014; Subiaul, 2016). Previously, empathetic imitation was thought to occur only through interactions but in recent years several studies have established that more important than one’s part played in a learned experience is ones perception of it (Feshbach & Feshbach, 1997; Stel & Vonk, 2009). We are imitating skills modeled by distant or fictional characters when we watch television without noticing it and therefore are learning everything from simple facial expressions to complex motor skills in an artificial environment. In this study, I will evaluate the limitations of this process by attempting to produce imitative motor movement in participants that are complex and specific. I will be showing participants videos with varying levels of writing or drawing modeled in them to establish videos with higher frequencies of this trait producing higher levels of motion from participants watching.

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