The social functions of mimicry: on the consequences and qualifiers of facial imitation


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Title The social functions of mimicry: on the consequences and qualifiers of facial imitation
Period 07 / 2001 - 09 / 2005
Status Completed
Dissertation Yes
Research number OND1286309


The aim of this project is to investigate which purposes facial mimicry serves and how these functions are related to each other, by examining different consequences of facial mimicry. Through three series of each two experiments, social functions of facial mimicry are explored. In the first series, the consequences of facial mimicry for the perceiver are investigated (experiments I and II). The proposed consequences for the perceiver are more empathic feelings for the target, more accurate impression of the target, less correspondence bias, perceiving more similarity between oneself and the target, and a more positive impression of the target. In the second series, circumstances which should enhance the amount of mimicry are explored. The amount of mimicry in the condition in which one is instructed to form an accurate impression (exp III) or to empathize with the target (exp IV) is compared with a control condition. In the last series of experiments, real interaction situations are used to test a comprehensive model concerning facial mimicry, including consequences for the target (such as feeling understood, forming more positive impressions of the perceiver) and consequences pertaining to the dynamics between the perceiver and target (e.g., smoother interactions).

Abstract (NL)

Mensen hebben de onbewuste neiging anderen te imiteren. Men imiteert bijvoorbeeld elkaars houdingen, gedragingen, gezichtsexpressies en de manier van spreken. Imitatie speelt een belangrijke rol in bindingsprocessen tussen mensen. Het heeft voordelen zowel voor degene die imiteert, als voor degene die geïmiteerd wordt, zorgt voor meer empathie en begrip voor elkaar, voor soepeler gesprekken en voor meer sympathie tussen mensen. En die toegenomen sympathie zorgt op haar beurt weer voor toename in imitatiegedrag. Wanneer mensen elkaar onaardig vinden, is de automatische tendens om te imiteren verminderd. De positieve cirkel van imitatie wordt dan niet gestart. Maar er is nog hoop: wanneer anderen jou onaardig vinden, helpt bewuste imitatie je om aardiger gevonden te worden.

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Supervisor Prof.dr. R. Vonk
Doctoral/PhD student Dr. M. Stel


D51000 Psychology

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