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Thesis (M.S.)

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In past research concerning spontaneous motoric and symbolic mediation in observational learning (Berger, et al . , 1979), familiar observers who had symbolic codes for the model's behavior benefited from the use of these codes; unfamiliar observers who had no available symbolic codes benefited from the use of motor mimicry. Familiar observers, however, still engaged in a considerable amount of mimicry. This study examined two hypotheses concerning why familiar subjects continued to mimic: that mimicry acts as a temporary coding device when observers do not have enough time to think of familiar symbolic codes for a model's behavior and that observers increase their use of mimicry when they expect to have to perform the model's behavior as a test of their learning. The results showed that there was no difference in mimicry between groups of observers who did have enough time to think of symbolic codes and those who did not. Observers who expected to have to perform the model's behavior engaged in more mimicry than those who expected a recognition test. In addition, some observers reported engaging in unintentional mimicry. The results suggest that mimicry in past research may have occurred automatically and unintentionally or in preparation for a performance test.