Mimicry and Modeling of Health(-Risk) Behaviors: How Others Impact Our Health(-Risk) Behaviors Without Our Awareness
© 2019, This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply. When it comes to health(-risk) behaviors, researchers are apt to consider how to change behaviors from a top-down approach (i.e., using the conscious, reflective, deliberate system) even though much of human behavior is determined by bottom-up processes (i.e., the nonconscious, reflexive, impulsive system). Given that researchers have proposed that interventions that target nonconscious processes underlying health(-risk) behaviors may prove to be more effective than interventions that target conscious processes, we argue that understanding the ways in which mimicking and modeling affect health(-risk) behaviors is a critical—albeit largely unexplored—domain. In this paper, we review existing evidence that people mimic and model a broad range of health(-risk) behaviors: specifically, the cigarette smoking, alcohol drinking, (un)healthy eating, and physical activity of others. We then discuss the neural and psychological mechanisms underlying these effects. Next, we outline moderators: specifically, we discuss when mimicking and modeling are more likely to occur, who is more likely to mimic and model, as well as who is more likely to be mimicked and modeled. Finally, we consider how mimicry and modeling could be used to leverage healthy behavioral change.
Duffy, KA; Green, PA; Chartrand, TL
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