You want to know the truth? Then don't mimic!

Psychol Sci. 2009 Jun;20(6):693-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02350.x. Epub 2009 Apr 28.


Mimicry facilitates the ability to understand what other people are feeling. The present research investigated whether this is also true when the expressions that are being mimicked do not reflect the other person's true emotions. In interactions, targets either lied or told the truth, while observers mimicked or did not mimic the targets' facial and behavioral movements. Detection of deception was measured directly by observers' judgments of the extent to which they thought the targets were telling the truth and indirectly by observers' assessment of targets' emotions. The results demonstrated that nonmimickers were more accurate than mimickers in their estimations of targets' truthfulness and of targets' experienced emotions. The results contradict the view that mimicry facilitates the understanding of people's felt emotions. In the case of deceptive messages, mimicry hinders this emotional understanding.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Concept Formation
  • Emotions*
  • Fear
  • Female
  • Guilt
  • Humans
  • Imitative Behavior*
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Judgment
  • Lie Detection*
  • Male
  • Nonverbal Communication
  • Personal Construct Theory*
  • Truth Disclosure*
  • Young Adult