London: Human brains imitate speech patterns of other people, even complete strangers, without meaning to due to an inbuilt urge of the brain to "affiliate" with them.
Researchers say humans want to "bond" with others, even when a voice cannot be heard or, somewhat embarrassingly, even if another person is a foreigner.
Scientists from the University of California at Riverside, found the subconscious copying of an accent comes from an inbuilt urge of the brain to "empathise and affiliate," says a Telegraph report.
The findings, reported in the journal Attention, Perception and Psychophysics, concluded this happens when we cannot hear what is being said but are simply lip-reading.
"Humans are incessant imitators," said Lawrence Rosenblum, a psychologist who led the study.
"We intentionally imitate subtle aspects of each other`s mannerisms, postures and facial expressions. We also imitate each other`s speech patterns, including inflections, talking speed and speaking time."
"Sometimes we even take on the foreign accent of the person to whom we are talking, leading to embarrassing consequences," Rosenblum added.