Using nonconscious behavioral mimicry to create affiliation and rapport

Psychol Sci. 2003 Jul;14(4):334-9. doi: 10.1111/1467-9280.14481.


Nonconscious behavioral mimicry occurs when a person unwittingly imitates the behaviors of another person. This mimicry has been attributed to a direct link between perceiving a behavior and performing that same behavior. The current experiments explored whether having a goal to affiliate augments the tendency to mimic the behaviors of interaction partners. Experiment 1 demonstrated that having an affiliation goal increases nonconscious mimicry, and Experiment 2 further supported this proposition by demonstrating that people who have unsuccessfully attempted to affiliate in an interaction subsequently exhibit more mimicry than those who have not experienced such a failure. Results suggest that behavioral mimicry may be part of a person's repertoire of behaviors, used nonconsciously, when there is a desire to create rapport.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Awareness
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Female
  • Goals
  • Humans
  • Imitative Behavior*
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Nonverbal Communication*
  • Unconscious, Psychology*