Self-monitoring without awareness: using mimicry as a nonconscious affiliation strategy

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2003 Dec;85(6):1170-9. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.85.6.1170.


This research sought to extend the current conceptualization of self-monitoring by examining whether self-monitoring motives and behaviors can operate outside of conscious awareness. Two studies examined nonconscious mimicry among high and low self-monitors in situations varying in affiliative cues. Participants interacted with a confederate who shook her foot (Study 1) or touched her face (Study 2). In both studies, high self-monitors were more likely to mimic the confederate's subtle gestures when they believed the confederate to be a peer (Study 1) or someone superior to them (Study 2). Low self-monitors mimicked to the same degree across conditions. Thus, when the situation contains affiliative cues, high self-monitors use mimicry as a nonconscious strategy to get along with their interaction partner.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Awareness*
  • Dominance-Subordination
  • Female
  • Gestures
  • Humans
  • Imitative Behavior*
  • Internal-External Control
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Peer Group
  • Self-Assessment*
  • Social Perception
  • Unconscious, Psychology*