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2019 International Association for Conflict Management Conference

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Mimicry Plus Power is a Toxic Brew that Undermines Authenticity

Keywords: Mimicry, Power, Authenticity

Abstract: Past research has explored mimicary and its positive effects on relationships, performance, and negotiation, indicating that mimicry increased affection and trust toward the mimicker. Yet, how people experience being a mimicker and the cost of being one have not been fully documented. We conducted three experiments and one correlation study investigating the impact of mimicry on a mimicker’s sense of authenticity and general world view. We found that mimicking reduced feelings of authenticity in social interactions (Study 1) and in negotiation contexts, especially for individuals who have a high sense of power (Study 2) or who were primed with high power (Studies 3 &4). In Study 4, we found that mimicking increased Machiavellianism through a reduced feeling of authenticity only for people in the high-power condition. Our findings suggest that utilizing mimicry may elicit backlash for mimickers with high power and may not be a good fit for all.

Jaee Cho, The Hong Kong University of Science & Technology

Adam Galinsky, Columbia Business School

Sol Jee Lee, The Hong Kong University of Science & Technology


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