The Antecedents and Consequences of Human Behavioral Mimicry

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Abstract

Behavioral mimicry—the automatic imitation of gestures, postures, mannerisms, and other motor movements—is pervasive in human interactions. The current review focuses on two recent themes in the mimicry literature. First, an analysis of the moderators of mimicry uncovers the various motivational, social, emotional, and personality factors that lead to more or less mimicry of an interaction partner in a given situation. Second, a significant amount of recent research has identified important downstream consequences of mimicking or being mimicked by another person. These include not only increased prosociality between interactants, but also unexpected effects on the individual, such as cognitive processing style, attitudes, consumer preferences, self-regulatory ability, and academic performance. Behavioral mimicry is also placed in its broader context: a form of interpersonal coordination. It is compared to interactional synchrony and other social contagion effects, including verbal, goal, and emotional contagion and attitudinal convergence.

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