“The Chameleon Effect: The Perception-Behavior Link and Social Interaction.” Journal of Personality

How does jogging effect us? How does jogging effect me? These are some of the questions that first
ran through my mind when this project was presented to us here using edx.org, for Arizona State
University’s English 101 Composition course. We are asked to pick a habit that has somehow I’ve
shaped myself within the larger community by that activity. For me, it had to be jogging. In a way,
jogging is aiding me to get over the anxiety of talking to strangers.
Also building self-confidence by jogging and speaking to others as we jog by. Expanding the
chances of feeling more self-worth tends to increase with the practice of this activity in my own
personal view as well. By interacting with other joggers also makes me feel like I’m apart of something
larger than myself. Apart of a community of sorts. Now when I go out to jog I see a good handful of the
same people on the trail that I use every day. It’s interesting how the communication seems to work in
that scenario.
Some people interact differently with others, I know, but in this particular situation I’ve come to notice
a sort of mimicry that occurs between two people jogging by one another. First, it starts with looking at
the other individual, trying to read their facial expressions to see what kind of mood they’re in for the
morning. Typically, everyone that I’ve met or seen there is indifferent or holding a smile on their face.
Once we are a tad closer, whoever initiates the action, the other person usually mimics the gesture in
return. Whether it’s saying “Hello!”, “Good Morning”, or a smile and a nod.
There is a connection being made between the two of us through the action of simply jogging past
the other. It’s a good feeling, especially when you’re jogging alone! This whole rigmarole through
nonverbal and verbal communication is what I wish to discuss today, here with all of you. I will be
examing the automatic behavioural responses made between two strangers participating in the same
activity. Explain how these elements come into play, and how it fits into that of the jogging culture as
defined by my own experiences, as well as a supporting evidence. This behaviour has helped my
insight on many things.
Jogging makes me feel good about myself like I’ve previously mentioned; to which I’m sure most
joggers can also confirm in sharing this emotion. The act of these verbal and nonverbal
communications helps us to build up a relationship with that other person we share them with. That
relationship can be involved outside of this topic as well(i.e. going to public places). For my example
let’s imagine a restaurant where you must wait to be seated; now in this situation, you have to wait to
get the attention of the hostess to assist you. To get her attention, you simply stand near the podium by
the entrance.
By doing this she can then clearly identify you as a new customer and get you to a table. Here is the
thing: while jogging we also wait to catch the eyes (or attention) of the other jogger before ever
executing any kind of further action. To me, this is a great way to have a conversation, as weird as that
might sound. Having the skill to be able to communicate without the need to speak is a wonderful tool
we have access to as human beings, and I think we tend to forget we even initiate them!
“Adam Smith(1759/1966), for example, posited that reflexive imitation occurs after one takes the
perspective of the other and realises what he or she must feel, and Charles Darwin(1872/1966) used
the term sympathy to refer to imitation based on reflex or habit. In fact, according to Gordon
Allport(1968), the original meaning of the term empathy was, “objective motor mimicry”; it was only until
the latter half of the 20th century that it came to be used as a global term encompassing vicarious
emotion, role taking, and the ability to understand others..”(Chartrand & Bargh, 1999).
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After reading this particular section of Chartrand and Bargh’s article about, “The Chameleon Effect:
The Perception-Behavior Link and Social Interaction”; I learned that these types of communications are
actually hardwired into us. So when I pass by someone else jogging in the opposite direction, we are
actually reflecting the positive assertation received from the other party. Culturally speaking, this kind
of automatic behaviour plays different roles within society; like how I mentioned the earlier about
signalling the hostess for assistance(and that’s just one example!). Being aware of this makes me feel
more connected to the other person as well. If we both are participating in the same activity this means
we could also be sharing similar emotions behind why it is we choose to jog in the first place.This really
got me thinking here, so I decided to a little experiment while I was out jogging; this would last for 4
days.
My plan was to change how I interacted with other joggers while on the trail and note their
reactions.Day one, goal: No eye contact or responding to gestures. I have to admit day one was rough,
I try to be friendly so the people who usually saw me – I was worried about their reactions the most. To
my surprise, the gentlemen with his poodle I see most often actually stopped me from seeing if I was
okay! While the rest continued on with seemly disappointed glances.
It was very unexpected to have him “pull me over” like he did since I actually don’t know him(not even
his name!)! Now to me this is pure proof supporting my theory on the relationship building aspect. A
total stranger, who I never had spoken to outside of that brief jog window you have; noticed my
behaviour immediately and was concerned. He went out of his way to see if I was alright; now that’s a
connection.
Day two, goal: Say “Good Morning” in a friendly manner with a smile to half of the joggers, and to the
other half saying it monotone relaxed expression; no waving or hand motions. Results of the half I said
it to in monotone were strange indeed. Some didn’t even respond, though maybe they just couldn’t
hear me?(or were simply uninterested?). The rest replied “Good Morning” in almost a mirrored and
enthusiastic way just as how I had presented it to them. Day three, goal: smile and nod only, no verbal
replies. The outcome was very similar to that of the “norm” you get from jogging; though I do have to
note it wasn’t as rewarding as the days when I used verbal communication.
Day four, goal: saying, “Hello” in the same fashion as I used for say two; but also waving. This one’s
weird, even though on day two in monotone no one really paid attention; now with a quick wave mixed
with the monotone “Hello”, I’m getting valid mirrored responses from the other joggers this time! Results
to the other half also mimicked the friendly “Hello”, though 2 people did omit the “Hello” keeping the
wave and 1 replied via the smile and nod combination. This shows us that we actively use these skill
sets every day as an automatically integrated part of our original functionality! Mainly from all those
that I’ve interviewed, reported that their motivation to jog and keep jogging comes down to the basic
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fact of wanting to remain or be healthy; and this is the activity that eventually allowed them to achieve
it.
“I used to dread even thinking about going out for a jog..” said Gwen H., “-but after a while, you just
start to crave it!”. Gwen is one of the ladies I normal see jogging out in the mornings. She’s told me, “I
may look 24, but I’m 35 and I want to keep it that way!” as for her reasoning behind why she still keeps
up with it to this day. Everyone has their own reasons for why they want to be participating in any kind
of activity. Personally, I using jogging as an activity to be healthy and to focus on myself more.
Not running for the pure pleasure of it at first, but then slowly starting to use it as a catalyst – to launch
ourselves into a more positive lifestyle. We also get reaffirmation on those positive thoughts when
interacting with another jogger. It tells that little voice in your head pleading you to stop going, to stuff it
and keep it up! This has allowed me to grow as an individual who seeks to improve myself in small
ways I had never really paid attention to prior to this experiment. From this paper, I hope that I can also
convince you to now take notice in our reflective behaviours demonstrated through that which we now

know is called, “The Chameleon Effect”(Chartrand & Bargh, 1999).

~Works Cited Page~

Chartrand, Tanya L., and John A. Bargh. “The Chameleon Effect: The Perception-Behavior Link and
Social Interaction.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 893-910 76.6 (1999): 895-

  1. Http://www.yale.edu/acmelab/publications.html#1999. Web. 1 Apr. 2016.
    http://www.yale.edu/acmelab/articles/chartrand_bargh_1999.pdf. Copyright 1999 by the American Psychological
    Association, Inc. 0022-3514/99/$3.00
    Runners. We Understand Each Other. Digital image. Running Junkies. Unknown. Web. 1 Apr. 2016.
    http://www.runningjunkies.com/wpcontent/uploads/2014/05/5467f7951ca2f67028507f886960dd79.jpg. {Could not find any more
    additional information on the original poster.}