Robert Evans
Imitation Game Research

This page contains information about and links to current research on the Imitation Game. It is intended to complement the Imitation Game pages on the ALL @ SEE website and the Expertise Network blog.

The Imitation Game is a new research method that grows out of the Studies of Expertise and Experience (SEE). Initially conceived as a way of testing the idea of interactional expertise, it has now become a methodological project in its own right that is funded by an Advanced Research Grant from the European Research Council. There is also an app – called Masquerade -- that allows you to play the Imitation Game on a tablet or smart phone.

The method is based on the Turing Test used in Artificial Intelligence research and explores the extent to which participants are able to reproduce the discourse of different social groups. The idea is that, where socialisation has enabled participants to develop interactional expertise, they will be indistinguishable from contributory experts even though they have no practical experience. In contrast, where participants do not have the socialisation needed to develop interactional expertise they will be identified as non-experts by the judge.

We are using the Imitation Game as a comparative research method to explore social interactions and, by implication, social integration on topics including Religion, Sexuality and Race/Ethnicity. Other potential applications of the Imitation Game include: pedagogic innovation in science teaching, evaluating the success of internships in developing interdisciplinary research, and the qualitative exploration of social identity and group membership.

Research Methods Festival

In July 2014 we will be hosting a session on the The Imitation Game at the ESRC Research Methods Festival. This is our second appearance at the festival. We also contributed a 'What is...' session at the 2010 Festival. The powerpoint file for that presentation is available from the Festival website.


There are a now a number of publications that describe the Imitation Game method in some detail. These are:

Collins, H.M. and Evans, R.J. (2013) ‘Quantifying the Tacit: The Imitation Game and Social Fluency’, Sociology, <Published as Online First on 25 Feb 2013;>

Evans, Robert and Crocker, Helen (2013) The Imitation Game as a Method for Exploring Knowledge(s) of Chronic Illness, Methodological Innovations Online, Vol. 7 (2) <>

Evans, Robert and Collins, Harry (2010) ‘Interactional Expertise and the Imitation Game’, in Michael Gorman (ed) Trading Zones and Interactional Expertise: Creating New Kinds of Collaboration. Chicago, IL.: MIT Press. Pp. 53-70.

Collins, H.M. Evans, Robert, Ribeiro, Rodrigo and Hall, Martin (2006), ‘Experiments with Interactional Expertise, Studies In History and Philosophy of Science, Volume 37, No. 4 (Dec 2006), pp. 656-674. <>

Further Information

Further information, including sample instructions and other information, is available from the Imitation Game pages on the ALL @ SEE website.










Last updated on 2013-11-25

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