The Power of Shared Experience: Simultaneous Observation With Similar Others Facilitates Social Learning
Author(s)Shteynberg, Garriy; Apfelbaum, Evan Paul
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Across disciplines, social learning research has been unified by the principle that people learn new behaviors to the extent that they identify with the actor modeling them. We propose that this conceptualization may overlook the power of the interpersonal situation in which the modeled behavior is observed. Specifically, we predict that contexts characterized by shared in-group attention are particularly conducive to social learning. In two studies, participants were shown the same written exchange in either paragraph or chat form across multiple interpersonal contexts. We gauged social learning based on participants’ tendency to imitate the form of the written exchange to which they were exposed. Across both studies, results reveal that imitation is especially likely among individuals placed in the specific context of simultaneous observation with a similar other. These findings suggest that shared in-group attention is uniquely adaptive for social learning.
DepartmentSloan School of Management
Social Psychological and Personality Science
Shteynberg, G., and E. P. Apfelbaum. “The Power of Shared Experience: Simultaneous Observation With Similar Others Facilitates Social Learning.” Social Psychological and Personality Science 4, no. 6 (March 5, 2013): 738–744.
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