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    Is mimicry effective in communication?

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    Louise Hay

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    In psychological help manuals and on the subject of
    communication, one of the most common tips is that to imitate language
    corporal of the other helps to increase empathy between people. However,
    in a previous article related to mimicry
    of gestures, we had already seen that imitating the gestures of the other can be
    perceived by an outside observer as something negative, discrediting us to
    his eyes and making us appear less intelligent.

    In 1999 the psychologists Chartrand and Bargh developed
    a series of experiments in which they wondered if people tend to imitate
    automatically others and if the mimic really increases empathy in the
    conversation. Imitate the
    others is automatic?
    In the first experiment the psychologists analyzed 78
    people who were asked to undergo an interview. The interviewer
    was prepared in advance to use certain gestures that allowed
    see if people repeated them. The result? Indeed, people tended to
    imitate the interviewer. The most imitated gesture was that of crossing the legs
    followed by touching her face. The mimicry
    increases empathy?
    In the second experiment the researchers went back to
    analyze 78 people who were asked to comment on what they thought of
    a photo together with an interviewer (the interviewer was always prepared why
    imitated some of people's gestures). The trick was that half of the
    people had to be imitated in their gestures and the other half not. At the end, it came
    asked participants to express on a scale of 1 to 9 how likeable
    turned out to be the interviewer. The result? When the interviewer had imitated their gestures
    he was sympathetic in a percentage of 6,62% while that when he was not
    imitated none the percentage dropped to 5,91%. Of course, it's not one
    substantial difference but it is still statistically significant. Which
    conclusions can we draw?
    Simply, that the "chameleon" effect is not all
    helps this reptile to camouflage itself in its environment to survive but that
    we humans also apply it unconsciously every day, perhaps because
    it is a social learning that allows us to better adapt to the environment
    we live in. So, if you want to increase empathy during one
    conversation, you could imitate the gestures of the other but, remember that it would be
    better that there wasn't a third person watching, since in this case
    we could make a bad impression.
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