Something that has always made me think about human nature and our behavior is; why do people mimic each other when in conversation? Sometimes it can be as subtle as crossing both of your arms to as big as scratching your head after they do or adjusting eyewear after them. This can be tricky to catch because, for the most part, it is a subconscious behavior, so the person might not be aware they are mimicking another.
Research Question: Why do humans mirror other’s actions during conversation?
Hypothesis: Humans mirror others behavior and actions in conversation because when humans were still evolving and adapting, they created a subconscious mimicking mechanism as a way to either protect themselves or to show other’s they were safe.
- First I would just ask about 20 students to volunteer to just have a conversation with another person (probably a psych student)
- The students will talk while the researcher slowly mimics half of their behavior, tone, body language, etc. until almost every action is mimicked and with the other half do nothing while talking.
- note: the volunteer should not be aware the other person’s role (mimicking). They are simply two people having a conversation, don’t want them to be self-conscious of their body language and actions. You want it to be natural.
- Hopefully, after 15-20 minutes of talking, the volunteer will be copying the behavior of the researcher, since they have subconsciously been mimicked the whole time.
- Ask each volunteer to rate how connected they feel with the interviewer. Hopefully the mimicked conversations will feel more connected than the ones without mimicking.
Use this as a comparison of natural behavior and mimicking with some priming/help from the researcher.
- Have two volunteers sit down and start talking, you can give them starter questions to talk about various topics (start with lighter stuff then lead to serious/darker questions)
- Observe the partner conversations of about 5-10 pairings and then compare their behaviors of during the conversations with that of the original conversation between the interviewer and the volunteer.
You will be able to see when the most people mimicked each other (during beginning, middle, end, more serious, lighter topics, etc.)
If someone repeats your bodily actions in a subtle way, it is most likely they are no harm to you and can relate to your feelings and emotions in that time frame. If two people do or act the same, then they can assume that person is not a threat or danger since they are like-minded to some capacity. This can still be seen today in a different capacity, not in a evolutionary way. During infancy, an infant will mimic the facial expressions or verbal cues given by their primary caregiver(s). Babies begin to mimic the individuals around them to establish deep connections and to start working their fine/gross motor skills, and in particular, their bodily functions and basic movements (i.e. waving, clapping, hug, kiss, etc.). This ability to mimic another person’s actions allows the infant to establish a sense of empathy and thus begin to understand basic emotions such as happiness, fright, discomfort, and compassion. The infant continues to establish connections with other individual’s emotions and subsequently mirror their movements as well.
Mirroring can is defined as the behavior in which one person subconsciously imitates the gesture, speech pattern, or attitudes of another person. Mirroring most often occurs in social situations, particularly in the company of close friends or family. The concept often affects other individuals’ notions about the individual that is exhibiting mirroring behaviors, which can lead to the individual building rapport with others. Too much mirroring should be considered dangerous and the individual needs checked for behavioral or a cognitive function problem.
Mirroring is the subconscious replication of another person’s nonverbal signals. This concept takes place in everyday interactions, and often goes unnoticed by both the person enacting the mirroring behaviors as well as the individual who is being mirrored. The activation of mirror neurons takes place within the individual who begins to mirror another’s movements, and allows them a greater connection and understanding with the individual who they are mirroring, as well as allowing the individual who is being mirrored to feel a stronger connection with the other individual. Mirroring is distinct from conscious imitation under the premise that while the latter is a conscious, typically overt effort to copy another person, mirroring is subconsciously done during the act and often goes unnoticed.
Mirroring can establish rapport with the individual who is being mirrored, as the similarities in nonverbal gestures allow the individual to feel more connected with the person exhibiting the mirrored behavior. As the two individuals in the situation display similar nonverbal gestures, they may believe that they share similar attitudes and ideas as well. Mirror neurons react to and cause these movements, allowing the individuals to feel a greater sense of engagement and belonging within the situation.