- Do we mimic what we see or what we know?
- Book title
- Collective emotions
- Pages (from-to)
- Oxford: Oxford University Press
- Series in affective science
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Facial mimicry—the imitation of the facial expressions of others—has been regarded as one of the underlying mechanisms that may explain the rise of collective emotions. At least two possible functions of mimicry have been described. First, mimicry facilitates the process of emotion recognition, and second, it serves to signal understanding and acceptance of others’ emotional state. The goal of the present chapter is to clarify the different terms related to or associated with facial mimicry and to outline the specific functions of mimicry in a social context. There are different views with regard to the question to what degree mimicry is an automatic motor reaction or a reaction modulated by social context. It is argued that social context information is crucial for the elicitation of mimicry and that mimicry predominately serves to signal affiliation between individuals or group members. Facial mimicry therefore reflects not what the observer sees, but rather the observers’ knowledge of others’ emotional state.
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