The effects of socioeconomic status and situational power on self-other processing in the automatic imitation task
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Previous work using physiological measures has shown that socioeconomic status and social power both influence the degree to which people are attuned to the actions of others. However, it is unclear whether such effects on brain activity translate into behaviourally significant outcomes. Here, we examined differences in automatic imitation between individuals varying in SES and power from the local community population. The automatic imitation task involves participants making actions in response to a symbolic cue while simultaneously being exposed to an action that is incongruent or congruent with the cued response. Patterns of interference in reaction time and error rate reveal the extent to which a person is susceptible to influence from the actions of other-what we refer to as "the degree of social attunement". We found that individuals from low SES backgrounds and those in the low power priming group exhibited more interference than individuals from high SES backgrounds and those in the high power priming group. However, we did not observe an interaction between chronic status and the power group. We discuss our results in relation to broader behavioural patterns exhibited by individuals at varying levels of a social structure.
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