How to learn a foreign dialect: the mimicry heuristic in action
Your nervous system is not autonomous, nor is mine. For better or worse, our nervous systems and our minds are connected. This rich interconnection enables empathy and group cohesion, but it can also lead to an infantile need to connect and belong. I discuss both the advantages and perils of such connection in On Second Thought‘s chapter on the Mimicry Heuristic. A new study in the journal Psychological Science, widely reported in the science news pages this week, adds new and intriguing evidence for the power of the Mimicry Heuristic: It seems that people who mimic the dialect of a foreign language speaker have greater comprehension of that language; action is intimately linked to understanding. Of course, the new science does not alter the fact that it’s still impolite too do.
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