Get access

Emotional Mimicry: Why and When We Mimic Emotions



The goal of this review was to provide a brief overview of recent developments in the domain of emotional mimicry research. We argue that emotional signals are intrinsically meaningful within a social relationship, which is crucial for understanding the functionality and boundary conditions of emotional mimicry. On the basis of a review of the literature on facial mimicry of emotion displays, we conclude that the classic matched motor hypothesis does not hold for emotional mimicry. We alternatively propose a contextual view of emotional mimicry, which states that emotional mimicry depends on the social context: we only mimic emotional signals that are interpreted to promote affiliation goals and not necessarily what we see. As a further consequence, we are less likely to mimic strangers and we do not mimic people we do not like nor emotions that signal antagonism.

Get access to the full text of this article