a bodily process that typically occurs when experiencing physical threats but

A bodily process that typically occurs when

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a bodily process that typically occurs when experiencing physical threats, but can extend to social domains, such as when outgroups behave in a stereotype-inconsistent manner (Mendes, Blascovich, Hunter, Lickel, & Jost, 2007). Various methodological differences between studies (e.g. types of ingroups and outgroups, types of dependent measures) may prevent any clear conclusions from being made. Perhaps what research in this area most strongly suggest—at this current point—is that researchers should increase their focus on what exactly mimicry by outgroups communicates to ingroups. To the author’s knowledge, there are at least two, current hypotheses, both of which deserve further attention. In both hypotheses, it is important to note that the context-sensitive nature of mimicry is emphasized, in which decreases in prejudice-related factors may occur in some contexts, but increases may occur in in other contexts. First, being mimicked may serve as a cue that the mimicker experiences, understands, or desires to understand one’s own emotional state (Winkielman, et al., 2015). In this case, the implications of mimicry on prejudice are likely to depend on a number of factors. For example, for individuals who strongly identify with their ingroup, perceiving themselves as similar to outgroups may actually be threatening to their own social identity (Crisp, Stone, & Hall, 2006). In this case, being mimicked by an outgroup may lead to more negative intergroup consequences, such as socially distancing oneself from the outgroup, in order to retain one’s own social identity. However, for other ingroup members—such as those who do not strongly identify with the ingroup—mimicry may induce positive effects. Second, being mimicked may indicate a desire to have smooth and harmonious interactions with the partner. While seemingly an unambiguously positive cue, mimicry in these cases may lead to unintended negative consequences in certain intergroup interactions. For example, in one
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EMBODIED PREJUDICE 10 study (Leander, Chartrand, & Wood, 2011), White, Asian-American, and Black participants were mimicked or not mimicked by a White confederate. Leander and colleagues hypothesized that being mimicked by a dominant ingroup member may act as a subtle, behavioral cue that causes recipients to behave in a manner that is expected by the mimicker (i.e. in stereotype-consistent ways). Indeed, outgroups who were mimicked behaved in a manner more consistent with stereotypes, as indicated by their scores on a math test (e.g. Black scores decreased, while Asian scores increased). Other types of behavioral cues. Outside of mimicry, there have been other bodily cues studied in the prejudice literature. One theoretical framework that has propelled research in the area is Fiske’s relational models theory (2004), which describes social relationships as consisting of four different types—each of which includes bodily actions that can both reveal and reinforce specific relationship types. For example, physical touch and the sharing of food are frequently observed in communal sharing
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