ScienceDaily (July 28, 2011) — Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but clueless copycatting comes at a cost. As anyone who has been subjected to the mocking playground game knows, parroting can be annoying. Yet gentle mimicry can act as a kind of "social glue" in human relationships. It fosters rapport and trust. It signals cohesion. Two people who like each other will often unconsciously mirror each other's mannerisms in subtle ways -- leaning forward in close synchrony, for example -- and that strengthens their bond.
The benefits of body-language mimicry have been confirmed by numerous psychological studies. And in popular culture, mirroring is frequently urged on people as a strategy -- for flirting or having a successful date, for closing a sale or acing a job interview. But new research suggests that mirroring may not always lead to positive social outcomes. In fact, sometimes the smarter thing to do is to refrain.
In a study to be published in a forthcoming issue of Psychological Science, Piotr Winkielman and Liam Kavanagh of the psychology department at the University of California, San Diego..
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