Gullible Mimics

A standard way to make someone like you is to mimic their face and body motions.  Smile, cross your legs, etc. when they do.  Why does this work?  Some say it helps you empathize with them, to feel as they feel.  Which is almost right. But more precisely mimicry helps you to see them as they want to be seen, rather than as they really are.  From a recent Psychological Science:

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 [about donating to a charity], 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.

You are attracted to those who mimic you in part because such people show you that they will try to believe your lies.  You like people who will uncritically accept your story.  Do you want to reconsider if you should mimic others, or like those who mimic you?

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