Both in EC and CC, we recorded the behaviour of the observer (presence of mimicry response/absence of mimicry response) during a 3-min time slot after seeing the trigger’s action. The occurrence of mimicking was coded as 1 (presence) or 0 (absence).

The response latency was measured as the time delay between the first touching of the smartphone by the trigger (t0) and the first touching of the smartphone by the observer (tx). The time latency was scored on six levels: 0 < tx ≤ 30 s = 1; 30 s < tx ≤ 1 min = 2; 1 min < tx ≤ 1.5 min = 3; 1.5 min < tx ≤ 2 min = 4; 2 min < tx ≤ 2.5 min = 5; 2.5 min < tx ≤ 3 min = 6.

The timing of observations was clustered as follows: morning (07:00 am–01:00 pm) = 0; afternoon (01:00 pm–07:00 pm) = 1; night (07:00 pm–03:00 am) = 2.

We recorded and categorized the sex (men = 0; women = 1) and age of the trigger and observer (18–25 years = 0; 26–40 years = 1; 41–60 years = 2).

The relationship between the trigger and the observer was clustered on four categories: strangers (people who had never met before = 0), acquaintances (people who exclusively shared an indirect relationship based on a third external factor—work duty, colleagues, friends in common, friends-of-friends = 1), friends (not kin subjects sharing a direct friendship relationship = 2), regular engaged partners and kin (family members and cohabitants = 3). In most cases, the relationship between the observed people was known to the experimenters. When the trigger was different from and unknown to M.G.R. and V.M., the experimenters collected personal information (e.g. age, relationship between the observed subjects) by engaging in a friendly conversation. When it was not possible to gather information on the age of the observed subjects or on their relationship, we excluded the record from the dataset.

Since food is a strong factor of affiliation in humans, we also categorized the social context in which the data have been recorded as a function of the absence = 0 or presence of food = 1. The context “presence of food” began when the subjects sat down at the table and ended when they left the table. In addition, during meals, subjects had the opportunity to manipulate their devices if they wanted. Social breakfasts, lunches, dinners and happy hours were included in the cluster ‘presence of food’. All the other social contexts such as working, travelling, relaxing time, board gaming, card gaming, studying in libraries and waiting in a sitting room (e.g. hair dressing salons, dentist studios) were clustered as ‘absence of food’.

Experimental and control conditions were randomly distributed across all the possible contexts and the periods of the day.

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