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The imitator vs. the imitated

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/consumed/201204/copy

This interesting article talks about the other side of copying behavior: the perspective of the imitated. In class, it has been discussed many times about the benefits of copying others (direct-based and information-based). However, this article takes on another spin on the behavior of copying others, with regards to peoples’s desire for uniqueness or “sense of individuality”. As stated in the article and in lecture, there are direct benefits in mimicking others because that in itself helps one to bond with the crowd/social group. Similar to the example shown in class with restaurant A and B, this article broadens the application of strategic copying to buying certain products, choosing movies, and more, which are situations where there are abundant options and differing levels of popularity are evident. However, there can also be negative effects, which comes from endangering one’s individuality.

Although someone might feel flattered because someone else copied them, the reaction of the imitated person varies depending on their “need for uniqueness”. Same principle applies to the imitator: the imitator may want to believe that the choice he or she made was an individual choice, rather than following the crowd. Whatever the actual truth may be, there is no doubt that sense of individuality plays a role in the way people buy products, especially clothes or anything you wear. For instance, if you were interested in buying a certain dress, but you see someone else show interest in that dress and buying it, you might not want to buy it anymore because your illusion of individuality as a consumer was compromised. Furthermore, if you were to imitate a crowd’s decision to get the direct benefit of socializing with others, this very act can have a negative impact on your relationship with these people because the imitated person may feel that their uniqueness is being compromised, as they see more and more people make the same decision as them. Therefore, the “need for individuality” in people can introduce an additional factor in calculating the degree in which certain products and/or decisions spread among a network of people, as it undermines the value of the direct benefit itself.

 

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