Journal of Nonverbal Behavior

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 5–41

Mimicry and the Judgment of Emotional Facial Expressions

  • Sylvie Blairy
  • Pedro Herrera
  • Ursula Hess
Article

DOI: 10.1023/A:1021370825283

Cite this article as:
Blairy, S., Herrera, P. & Hess, U. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior (1999) 23: 5. doi:10.1023/A:1021370825283

Abstract

Lipps (1907) presented a model of empathy which had an important influence on later formulations. According to Lipps, individuals tend to mimic an interaction partner's behavior, and this nonverbal mimicry induces—via a feedback process—the corresponding affective state in the observer. The resulting shared affect is believed to foster the understanding of the observed person's self. The present study tested this model in the context of judgments of emotional facial expressions. The results confirm that individuals mimic emotional facial expressions, and that the decoding of facial expressions is accompanied by shared affect. However, no evidence that emotion recognition accuracy or shared affect are mediated by mimicry was found. Yet, voluntary mimicry was found to have some limited influence on observer' s assessment of the observed person's personality. The implications of these results with regard to Lipps' original hypothesis are discussed.

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sylvie Blairy
    • 1
  • Pedro Herrera
    • 2
  • Ursula Hess
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, Erasme HospitalFree University of BrusselsCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Quebec at MontrealCanada

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