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Are goal states represented during kinematic imitation?

Cole, Geoff G.; Atkinson, Mark A.; D'Souza, Antonia D. C.; Welsh, Timothy N.; Skarratt, Paul A.


Geoff G. Cole

Mark A. Atkinson

Antonia D. C. D'Souza

Timothy N. Welsh


A number of studies have shown that observation of another person’s actions can modulate one’s own actions such as when two individuals cooperate in order to complete a joint task. However, little is known about whether or not direct matching of specific movements is modulated by the goals of the actions observed. In a series of seven experiments we employed an action observation paradigm in which two co-actors sat opposite each other and took turns to reach out to targets presented on a shared workspace. Importantly, co-actors performed either the same goal at the reached-to location or a different goal. Although results consistently showed that the reaching action of one individual slows the observer’s reaching action to the same spatial location, the effect was not modulated according to the adopted goals of co-actors. These findings challenge the notion that the processes involved in the imitation of specific movements code for the action goals of those movements.


Cole, G. G., Atkinson, M. A., D'Souza, A. D. C., Welsh, T. N., & Skarratt, P. A. (2018). Are goal states represented during kinematic imitation?. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 44(2), 226-242.

Acceptance Date Mar 15, 2017
Online Publication Date May 29, 2017
Publication Date Feb 5, 2018
Deposit Date Mar 29, 2017
Publicly Available Date May 29, 2017
Journal Journal of experimental psychology : human perception and performance
Print ISSN 0096-1523
Electronic ISSN 1939-1277
Publisher American Psychological Association
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 44
Issue 2
Pages 226-242
Keywords Attention; Movement compatibility; IOR; Social; Joint action; Imitation
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article which has been accepted for future publication in: Journal of experimental psychology : human perception and performance. This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.


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