Body Language Mirroring and You Part 1

Body Language Mirroring and You Part 1

You’ve undoubtedly seen it yourself: one person witnesses another person yawn, and suddenly they’re both yawning like crazy! Just another odd human quirk, eh? But even though we’ve all grown used to the idea of mirroring someone else’s behavior, the question of why we do it still remains elusive. And seeing as how all things mirror-related is our business, Superior Mirror sent out our top investigators in an effort to widen our gaze and explore the intriguing phenomena of body language mirroring.

What types of behaviors are mirrored? Before we delve into the “why,” it seems prudent to identify the “what,” specifically the different behaviors that are unconsciously mirrored by others. Mirroring is not the same as copying, in that there is no deliberate thought or will behind the act. When it comes to naturally fulfilling the urge to mirror body language, the action is involuntary and comes from all types of actions, movements or “ticks,” though some behaviors are mirrored more easily than others.

  1. Facial expressions
    1. Smiling and/or yawning are usually considered very “contagious,” as facial expressions are the most regularly-mirrored behaviors of men and women. Even at this level, mirroring not only triggers duplication of the gesture, but the action/behavior itself actually creates an emotional response.  Mirroring a smile makes you feel happy, mirroring a yawn makes you feel sleepy and so on.
  2. Physical Movement
    1. Larger, more physical mirroring events occur as well, though most often in high concentrations of people or group gatherings such as swaying to music at a concert, cheering intensely with others at sporting events or joining in a standing ovation after a speech. Unlike facial expressions, physical movement mirroring is often the emotional trigger rather than an associated side effect, but the emotional association still takes place.
  3. Vocalizations
    1. Even complex behavioral elements such as voices, intonations and accents can be subconsciously mirrored in an effort to build a connection with someone. Vocal mirroring is unique in that both parties often become self-aware of the action as it occurs, which can occasionally be misinterpreted as mocking or condescending by the mirrored individual.

So there you have it: humans mirror just about every behavior and action of one another, and often without realizing it. But exactly why we mirror one another still has yet to be discovered, so tune in next time for Superior Mirror’s second part of our blog mini-series to find out. The answer may surprise you!

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