On Constructing the Self and the Other in Imitation Game Experiments:
The Role of Interactional Expertise in Multicultural Societies
We use the imitation game format adapted from Turing’s Test (1950) to explore the dynamics of group formation and maintenance through interactional expertise. The latter is claimed to complement formal propositional knowledge and embodied skills as interlocutors try to understand the conceptual structure of the social world of the other (e.g., Collins & Evans 2002, Collins 2004). In our experiments the participants are involved in an interactive game: their task is to display their actual membership, imitate belonging to another social group, or provide a judgement about another person’s identity as recognized through interaction. We seek to replicate findings from previous studies that demonstrate a striking difference between how majority and minority groups use these resources in social interaction. These results and the data from focus group interviews are expected to shed more light on how fluid various social boundaries are and indicate which elements are used to construct relevant identities. The insights have the potential to avert conflict situations by promoting the acceptance of diversity.