Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Lebenswissen­schaftliche Fakultät - Institut für Psychologie

Mimicry and empathy

Mimicry is the tendency to (unconsciously and automatically) imitate others facially, vocally or posturally. Mimicry is a pervasive behavior, which is found in children as well as adults. On one hand, mimicry has been considered as a causal means to the understanding of the emotions of others, on the other it has been described as a social signal of the understanding of other's emotions. In fact, people who are mimicked feel more accepted and understood and mimicry in general fosters liking. The current research project focuses on the social determinants and functions of mimicry.

In particular, several studies have focused on the types of social interactions in which mimicry occurs, specifically interactions with outgroup members. In the larger framework of this project issues related to the notion of embodied cognition are studied.

Niedenthal, P.M., Mermillod, M., Maringer, M., & Hess, U (in press). The Simulation of Smiles (SIMS) Model:  Embodied Simulation and the Meaning of Facial Expression. Behavioral and Brain Sciences.
Hess, U., & Bourgeois, P. (in press). You smile - I smile: Emotion expression in social interaction. Biological Psychology.
Oosterijk, S., Rotteveel, M., Fischer, A. H., & Hess, U. (2009). Embodied emotion concepts: How generating words about pride and disappointment influences posture. European Journal of Social Psychology, 39, 457-466.
Wyers, P., Mühlberger, A., Kund, A., Hess, U., & Pauli. P. (2009). Modulation of facial reactions to avatar emotional faces by nonconscious competition priming. Psychophysiology, 46, 328-335.
Bourgeois, P. & Hess, U. (2008). The impact of social context on mimicry. Biological Psychology, 77, 343-352.
Yabar, Y. & Hess, U. (2007). Display of Empathy and Perception of Out-Group Members. New Zealand Journal of Psychology, 36, 42-50.
Hess, U. & Blairy, S. (2001). Facial mimicry and emotional contagion to dynamic emotional facial expressions and their influence on decoding accuracy. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 40, 129-141.
Hess, U. Blairy, S., & Kleck, R. E. (2000). The influence of expression intensity, gender, Blairy, S., Herrera, P., & Hess, U. (1999). Mimicry and the Judgment of Emotional Facial Expressions. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 23, 5-41