Understanding Imitation: Impact, Stages, and Examples of Imitation in Social Interaction

Understanding Imitation – Social interaction can occur due to the presence of several driving factors. One of them is imitation, i.e. imitating the behavior of other people or parties. More fully, the understanding of imitation is the behavior that a person performs through observing the behavior shown from other objects when he will gain new knowledge about a behavior he observes and tries to imitate the behavior.

In other words, the process of imitation does not happen by itself. Before a person imitates or imitates another person, first he accepts, admires, and holds in high esteem the person being imitated or imitated. Something that is imitated in this imitation behavior can be anything, such as behavior, lifestyle, appearance, norms, values, knowledge, and so on. Through imitation, a person learns values ​​and norms in society or vice versa, he learns actions that deviate from the prevailing values ​​and norms.

All that depends on the values ​​that occur in the environment. When a person is equipped with good values ​​and principles, he will certainly imitate things that are good and beneficial for his life. On the other hand, someone who is not equipped with good values ​​and principles will imitate bad things.

Meaning of Imitation

Imitation or imitating is a process of cognition to perform actions and actions as done by the model by involving the senses as receivers of stimuli and the installation of perceptual abilities to process information from stimuli with the ability of actions to perform motor movements. This process involves a high level of cognitive ability because it not only involves language but also understanding other people’s thoughts.

Imitation is currently studied from various scientific points of view such as psychology, neurology, cognitive, artificial intelligence, animal studies , anthropology, economics, sociology and philosophy. This is related to the function of imitation in learning, especially in children, as well as the human ability to interact socially until the decline of culture in the next generation.

In real life, this imitation is related to social life, so it is not too much to say that the whole social life is internalized in the child based on the imitation factor. Thus, in general, imitation is a social process or a person’s action to imitate another person through attitude, appearance, lifestyle, even anything owned by another person (Sasmita, 2011).

Sarsito (2010) says imitation is a process of cognition to perform actions and actions as has been done by the model by involving the senses as receivers of stimuli and the installation of perceptual abilities to process information from stimuli, with the ability of actions to perform motor movements.

Some of the concepts of imitation above are in line with the view of Barlow (2003), who says imitation is mostly done by humans through the presentation of behavioral examples (modelling), which is the learning process that occurs when a person observes and imitates the behavior of others. Meanwhile, according to Bandura (2007), imitation is behavior that is produced when someone sees a model or another person doing something in a certain way and getting consequences from that behavior.

The party doing the imitation will imitate exactly the actions done by the imitated party, without thinking about the purpose of the imitation. As for the behavior that is imitated according to Soekanto (2005) it can take the form of appearance ( performance ), attitude ( attitude ), behavior ( behavior ), lifestyle ( life style ) of the imitated party.

However, imitation does not happen directly but requires an attitude of acceptance, and an attitude of admiration towards what is being imitated. Through imitation, a person learns values ​​and norms in society or otherwise he learns an act that deviates from the prevailing values ​​and norms. Both children and adults learn many things from observation and imitation.

Observations made by individuals produce an imitation behavior that is seen by the people around them, so that behavior arises. That is in line with the opinion of Bandura (2006) who says that human behavior should be linked to responses that can be observed. The behavior is the result of observing the individual in his environment. Especially in children as the best imitators, children always observe behavior that appears from the environment, especially the family.

Based on several definitions of imitation that have been presented above, it can be concluded that imitation is a behavior produced by someone by imitating or watching other individuals do something, both in the form of appearance, attitude, behavior and lifestyle of the imitated party. In this case, imitation behavior is more visible to children, especially in the family environment through direct observation.

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1. Psychological Studies of Imitation

Imitation should be distinguished from imitation of the same movement (mimicry) or imitation of a goal (emulation), but in the process of imitation, humans perform the principle of imitation of an action by understanding the purpose of the action and being directed by the achievement of the target goal (goal ) .

Imitation is often associated with social learning theory from Albert Bandura. In addition to imitation, it is said that children form their theory of mind through imitation of other people’s actions as well as perception of stimuli received from their environment.

2. Neuroscience Studies

The discovery of the mirror neuron system in macaque monkeys published in 1996 by Giacomo Rizzolati from the University of Parma in Italy provides neurological evidence that imitation is important.

The mirror nervous system is the nerve of animals and humans that lights up when performing an action or witnessing the same action performed by another animal or human. The mirror nervous system (SSC) is located in the precortex of the brain. This SSC helps to understand the actions performed by others, making it possible to imitate.

Factors in Imitation

Imitation does not happen automatically but is influenced by the attitude of accepting what is observed. There are several factors that cause someone to engage in imitation behavior, as follows:

1. Psychological Factors

In order to imitate or copy there are other psychological factors that play a role, one of which is the cognitive aspect. That is how people think about things and interpret various experiences gained. In addition, this aspect also explains that new and complex behavior can be created by observing or seeing a model that he sees directly or indirectly. Until someone does an imitation.

According to Mussen and Conger (1984), imitation can occur as a response to a desire to be similar to others or a desire to achieve certain goals. The attitude that is imitated during the first three years of life, depends partly on the level of cognitive development of the child that determines any behavior that a child catches as a challenge that is not impossible.

The motivation to be similar to others and the level of emotion that is influenced by others, determines who will be imitated by the child, as well as the motivation in achieving the goal of determining what will be imitated.

2. Family Environment

Imitation has been going on since the individual was young and started from the family environment. For children, the family environment is the most influential environment, after that the school, then the community. Family is the smallest environment built by parents together with other family members.

The formation of a child’s nature or character is related to socialization or a process of inculcating values ​​and rules from parents to children. Cultivating those values, such as factors that motivate children to behave religiously. At first, children see the activities done by their parents.

When the child likes that, the child will imitate without knowing the essence of the act, so that the child’s motivation to imitate arises. That of course happened because at the time of the prime imitator, the child already had interests and desires but was not yet able to express those interests and desires properly (Jalaludin, 2010). A child’s interest and desire can only be seen through his gestures and behavior

3. Mass Media

Imitation will continue to expand to a wider environment, namely society. Imitation in society is accelerating with the development of time media, such as television shows. In the era of communication, time media can be added as a very influential factor more than others, because it is seen continuously and repeatedly.

A show is a message or series of messages in the form of voice, graphics, characters, whether interactive or not, that can be received through a message receiving device and ready to be shown (Kurniasih, 2004).

4. Social Interaction with Peers

Not only through time media, but social interaction or peers are also very influential in children’s imitation. Interaction with peers in the interaction process has an important role, especially in imitation in aspects of religious behavior.

This is explained by Nurhayati (2007), peer interaction has an important role in children’s religiosity through two things as follows:

  • Through the interaction of peers, the child will know whether his behavior that has been formed based on the standard of religiosity in the family can be accepted or rejected by his environment.
  • Peer interaction will motivate children to only behave appropriately that can be accepted by their environment.

Imitation Impact

Citing the book Social Science Sociology Volume 1 by Tim Mitra Guru (2007), there are two impacts caused by imitation behavior, namely positive and negative impacts.

1. Positive Impact

Imitation can encourage a person to do and fulfill the prevailing norms or rules so that a harmonious, harmonious, stable, and orderly society is created. For example, following the style of a famous singer, imitating the healthy lifestyle of other people, and so on.

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2. Negative Impact

The negative impact of imitation occurs if it can encourage someone to oppose the prevailing norms or rules. In this case, imitation can weaken the development of a person’s creativity. For example, a person imitates the lifestyle of his idol rock star by wearing earrings, using illegal drugs, etc.

Levels of Imitation

Imitation is the process of imitating the behavior of a model, so it is also called the modeling process. This can be applied to all types of behavior that have a strong tendency to imitate. This process is not done to everyone but to certain figures such as famous people, people who have power, successful people, or people who are often found.

The figure that usually becomes the model is the old man himself. However, according to Tarde (2010), before people imitate something, several conditions must first be met, namely:

  • Have a big enough interest/attention about it.
  • Admiring or admiring things to be imitated.
  • Want to gain social recognition as imitated.

Imitation is often associated with the theory of social learning from Bandura, because social learning is known as observational learning or learning from models, which is a learning process that emerges from observation, mastery of the imitation learning process, and imitation of other people’s behavior. In imitation there is a process of learning to copy or make a model of the actions of others through observation of that person. In social learning theory, individuals learn not through conditioning, but through observation.

As already explained, imitative behavior is usually caused by the interest, actions, attention, or admiration of the other party. Quoted from the journal Relationship Between Celebrity Worship and Imitation Behavior in Teenagers by Yolanda Bilqis Sherly (2019), those factors then develop into imitation which is done with the following stages:

1. Attention _

The first is to pay attention. That is, in order to be able to perform imitation actions, a person is motivated by observing the model or imitation object first. From there, it can perform the same behavior from the imitated object.

Individuals can learn through observation when there are models that are presented directly or indirectly, and accurately there are aspects that are relevant to the model’s activities. New responses can be learned by looking, listening and paying attention to other people, so attention in this matter becomes very important.

But as is known, not all the models presented will get the attention of individuals. Therefore, in order to be able to observe and learn from the model, it is necessary to direct and increase his attention. The method used is not always the same for everyone, for example children differ from adults in directing attention. However, in general, to increase attention, rewards and highlighting the quality of the model can be used, for example, the model has a certain appeal.

2. Retention ( Retention )

After the activity of the model is observed, the subject performs a retention process by storing the memory of the model seen, then stored in his memory. However, not all the information from the model will be saved by it. Usually, what is stored is information that attracts the subject’s attention and interest.

3. Behavior Formation ( Behavior Formation )

Things that have been learned and stored in memory by the subject from the imitated model will then be translated through action or behavior.

4. Motivation _

The last stage is the stage of acceptance of encouragement that can function as reinforcement. Reinforcement can be used as a motivator to stimulate and maintain behavior in order to be actualized in life.

Examples of Imitation

To better understand what imitation is, here are some examples of positive and negative imitation that often occur in everyday life.

1. Examples of Positive Imitation

  • Copy the clothing style of idol artists.
  • Imitate the singing style of other singers.
  • Imitate the learning habits of other students in order to get a better final grade.
  • Imitate basketball game tactics from famous basketball clubs.
  • A mother imitates another mother who is successful in educating her children.
  • A student imitates the behavior of his teacher who is very disciplined in dividing time.
  • Modeling the development of urban planning from other countries.

2. Examples of Negative Imitation

  • Imitating the habit of drinking alcohol and free association between young men and women.
  • Copying other people’s work, either in the form of cheating, stealing copyright, or plagiarism.
  • Imitating the habit of speeding on the road to the point of disturbing the comfort of other road users.
  • Imitating the habit of smoking.
  • Imitating a style of dress that is contrary to the prevailing norms or rules.
  • Using mobile phones while studying in class.