Skip to content

GUEST POST BY ZACHARY MILLER: The Chameleon Effect

June 25, 2013

Please welcome guest poster Zachary Miller to the blog today! Zachary is the director of AuditionInside.com, and is a performer in the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular show at Walt Disney World.

ZHead Shot 1

Make the casting director like you without even talking?!  (The Chameleon Effect)

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” – Charles Caleb Colton

Do you remember this old quote? Would you be surprised to know that this might be scientific fact?

In 1999, two psychology professors, Chartrand & Bargh, conducted experiments on a phenomenon called the “Chameleon Effect.” They conducted three experiments on this effect, but we are going to specifically look at the second of these experiments.  After you wade through all the science “mumbo jumbo,” the basic premise was to see if mimicking someone’s behaviors made you more likeable.  For example, if I touch my face when you do or cross my legs when you do, will you feel a better rapport with me?

The answer is YES!  Could these two scientists have found the magical answer to making someone like you? Can I just do this and magically be on the good side of a casting director or my coworkers? I don’t know if we could go that far…but Chartrand & Bargh found that people consistently rated “imitators” as more likeable (an average of 6.62 on a scale of 1-9, compared to “non-imitators” at 5.91). In addition, they rated their conversations as smoother (an average of 6.76 on a scale of 1-9, compared to the “non-imitators” 6.02).

OK, enough science…We know that imitating equals a smoother conversation and increased likeability. How does this help you as artist? Let’s say you get past the whole audition. You pass through the type-out no problem. You dance, sing, or tumble your heart out.  The casting team loves you.  You sit down for the interview and you freeze.

{Insert awkward pause here}.

Interviews were never your strong suit. Dancing your heart out on stage has never been an issue, but taking seemingly bullet-like questions on the opposite side of a casting army scares the pants off you! Take a few hypothetical steps back and remember this effect.  Follow the movements of the director asking the questions.  Sit how the director sits, follow their arm movements and conduct yourself as they are.  It will make both of you more comfortable and increase the smoothness of your conversation.  You now feel more comfortable because you know what you have to do and the director feels this weird rapport with you, almost as if you are very similar to him/her.  Now, don’t get me wrong here, this is not telling you to change what you are saying or sway your view points to match those of the casting director. Be you!…just with the physical tendencies of the casting director. J

With this mimicry, we may possibly take a step further into this and say you will feel more comfortable if the casting director is acting the same way you are! This could possibly be the one thing that makes you a killer interviewee!

The above is just one example.  You could apply this everywhere as an artist.  How about while you are on stage?  How do you make the audience believe that this guy you met two months ago is your best friend?  Well, now you know what people perceive as a smooth conversation. Perhaps, mimicking you’re your supporting lead is the way you really convince the audience.  Or…exactly the opposite! Do not mimic the person that is supposed to be your “arch nemesis.”

How about in the green room?  Everyone knows that this industry is about who you know.  Why not make everyone you meet feel like they have a great rapport with you? You know how to do it now! J

When used correctly, this effect may make a significant impact not only on your relationships in this industry, but also in your personal life. Chartrand & Bargh caught on to something very unique here. Take this as you will, but remember…the key to this industry, and arguably life, is creating and maintaining relationships. The Chameleon Effect might be a significant tool in that obstacle.

 Thank you for sharing this interesting theory with us, Zachary! Check out AuditionInside.com to learn more about Zachary and his new audition site.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: