The Cooperation Link: Power and Context Moderate Verbal Mimicry

LIWC Research Series:

Drawing on theories of mimicry as a schema-driven process, we tested whether the degree of verbal mimicry is dependent on the congruence between interactants’ power dynamic (symmetric versus asymmetric), task type (cooperative versus competitive), and interaction context (negotiation versus social). Experiment 1 found higher verbal mimicry among dyads who successfully completed a cooperative problem-solving task compared with those who did not, but only under conditions of symmetric, not asymmetric, power. Experiment 2 had dyads complete either a cooperative or a competitive negotiation task, under conditions of symmetric versus asymmetric power. Verbal mimicry was associated with improved negotiation outcomes under conditions of cooperation and symmetry, and competition and asymmetry. Experiment 3 completes this picture by separating cooperative– competitive orientation from the interaction context. Consistent with Experiment 2, verbal mimicry was associated with task success during a negotiation context with asymmetric power, and during a social interaction context with symmetric power. Our results point to the contextual link between verbal mimicry and task outcome.

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Richardson, B. H., McCulloch, K. C., Taylor, P. J., & Wall, H. J. (2019). The cooperation link: Power and context moderate verbal mimicry. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 25(1), 62-76.