Mimicking Others’ Nonverbal Signals is Associated with Increased Attitude Contagion

  • Allison L. SkinnerEmail author
  • Adilene Osnaya
  • Bhumi Patel
  • Sylvia P. Perry
Original Paper


Observing nonverbal signals being directed toward unfamiliar individuals is known to influence attitudes and behavior toward those individuals. Specifically, observing biased nonverbal signals in favor of one individual over another can produce nonverbal signal-consistent attitudes among preschool children. Research has also shown that people have a tendency to mimic the behavior of others. The phenomenon of mimicking another’s nonverbal emotional response and “catching” their emotions has long been established. However, it has yet to be examined whether this phenomenon is associated with attitude contagion. We hypothesized that preschool children who mimic the biased nonverbal signals of others will be more likely to adopt their social attitudes. Results of the current study indicated that as emotional mimicry became more frequent, children showed an increasingly greater probability of acquiring nonverbal signal-consistent attitudes. Moreover, the frequency of negative—but not positive—emotional mimicry was related to an increased probability of showing nonverbal signal-consistent attitudes. Our findings provide initial support for the notion that mimicking others’ biased nonverbal signals may help facilitate attitude contagion.


Social bias Nonverbal signals Children Mimicry Emotional mimicry Attitude contagion 


Supplementary material

10919_2019_322_MOESM1_ESM.docx (13 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 13 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allison L. Skinner
    • 1
    Email author
  • Adilene Osnaya
    • 2
  • Bhumi Patel
    • 1
  • Sylvia P. Perry
    • 3
  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychological SciencesPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  3. 3.Psychology DepartmentNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

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