Mimicry has benefits for people in social interactions. However, evidence regarding the consequences of mimicry is incomplete. First, research on mimicry has particularly focused on effects of being mimicked. Secondly, on the side of the mimicker evidence is correlational or lacks real interaction data. The present study investigated effects for mimickers and mimickees in face-to-face interaction. Feelings towards the immediate interaction partner and the interaction in which mimicry takes place were measured after an interaction between two participants in which mimicry did or did not occur. Results revealed that mimickers and mimickees became more affectively attuned to each other due to bidirectional influences of mimicry. Additionally, both mimickers and mimickees reported more feelings of having bonded with each other and rated the interaction as smoother.
Source: “Mimicry in social interaction: Benefits for mimickers, mimickees, and their interaction” from British Journal of Psychology, Volume 101, Number 2, May 2010 , pp. 311-323(13)
In fact, you might already use this as a tool but you’re not aware of it:
Nonconscious behavioral mimicry occurs when a person unwittingly imitates the behaviors of another person. This mimicry has been attributed to a direct link between perceiving a behavior and performing that same behavior. The current experiments explored whether having a goal to affiliate augments the tendency to mimic the behaviors of interaction partners. Experiment 1 demonstrated that having an affiliation goal increases nonconscious mimicry, and Experiment 2 further supported this proposition by demonstrating that people who have unsuccessfully attempted to affiliate in an interaction subsequently exhibit more mimicry than those who have not experienced such a failure. Results suggest that behavioral mimicry may be part of a person’s repertoire of behaviors, used nonconsciously, when there is a desire to create rapport.
Source: “Using Nonconscious Behavioral Mimicry to Create Affiliation and Rapport” from Psychological Science
It might even make you a better person:
Mimicry is functional for empathy and bonding purposes. Studies on the consequences of mimicry at a behavioral level demonstrated that mimicry increases prosocial behavior. However, these previous studies focused on the mimickee. In the present paper, we investigated whether mimickers also become more helpful due to mimicry. In two studies, we have demonstrated that participants, who mimicked expressions of a person shown on a video, donated more money to a charity than participants who did not mimic. Moreover, the processes by which mimicry and prosocial behavior are related largely remain empirically unexamined in existing literature. The results of Study 2 confirmed our hypothesis that affective empathy mediates the relationship between mimicry and prosocial behavior. This suggests that mimicry created an affective empathic mindset, which activated prosocial behaviors directed toward others.
Source: “Effects of mimicking: acting prosocially by being emotionally moved” from European Journal of Social Psychology, Volume 38 Issue 6, Pages 965 – 976
Previous research has demonstrated that nonconscious interpersonal mimicry engenders liking, affiliation, empathy, and other positive social consequences. Some of these consequences have recently been shown to go beyond the dyad. In other words, interpersonal mimicry not only affects the way we feel toward our immediate interaction partner, but also affects our feelings and behavior toward other people in general. The goal of the present research is to understand why it is that nonconscious mimicry has consequences that go beyond the dyad. Specifically, it is hypothesized and found that being mimicked during social interaction shifts self–construals such that they become more interdependent and “other–oriented” (Study 1). Accordingly, interpersonal mimicry heightens one’s perception of interpersonal closeness with nonspecified others (Study 2) and decreases one’s physical proximity to others (Study 3). In a final experiment (Study 4), the impact of mimicry on self–construal is shown to mediate the positive social consequences of mimicry.
Source: “Mimicry and Me: The Impact of Mimicry on Self-Construal” from Social Cognition, Volume: 25, Issue: 4, Cover date: August 2007, Page(s): 518-535
However, if you think people may be lying to you, mimicry may not be such a good idea:
Mimicry facilitates the ability to understand what other people are feeling. The present research investigated whether this is also true when the expressions that are being mimicked do not reflect the other person’s true emotions. In interactions, targets either lied or told the truth, while observers mimicked or did not mimic the targets’ facial and behavioral movements. Detection of deception was measured directly by observers’ judgments of the extent to which they thought the targets were telling the truth and indirectly by observers’ assessment of targets’ emotions. The results demonstrated that nonmimickers were more accurate than mimickers in their estimations of targets’ truthfulness and of targets’ experienced emotions. The results contradict the view that mimicry facilitates the understanding of people’s felt emotions. In the case of deceptive messages, mimicry hinders this emotional understanding.
Source: “You Want to Know the Truth? Then Don’t Mimic!” from Psychological Science, Volume 20 Issue 6, Pages 693 – 699
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