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Copycats Make Everyone Better



Indiana University cognitive scientists have found that it is beneficial to imitate others as well as to be imitated as well. Everyone improves:
"We thought at first it would be better to have innovators around you," said IU cognitive scientist Robert Goldstone, professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington. "But in our experiments, if people are surrounded by imitators, they actually do better."

The reason, said co-author Thomas Wisdom, is that "imitators often make their own improvements to the original solution, and these can, in turn, be adopted and improved upon by the originator and others."

“This kind of dynamic is found in situations where there are good ideas out there, but it's really hard for any one individual to find them searching in isolation,” Goldstone said. "If you're working in a field like medicine, software development or art, where there are a huge number of ideas with unknown potential, it is often good to be surrounded by imitators."
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