Impact of Social Anxiety on Behavioral Mimicry During a Social Interaction With a Confederate Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Behavioral mimicry, the unintentional alteration of one's behavior to match that of an interaction partner, leads to many positive outcomes such as increased rapport. The current study examined the influence of social anxiety on mimicry behavior during a social interaction. Participants (N = 84), pre-screened for low and high social anxiety, participated in a face-to-face interaction with a confederate. Individuals with high social anxiety were less likely to mimic the movements of the confederate than individuals with low social anxiety. However, reduced mimicry behavior was only found during the portion of the experiment in which the confederate's movements were not planned, and not during the portion of the experiment in which the confederate made planned movements. Further, individuals with increased self-focused attention were also less likely to mimic during the portion of the experiment where the confederate's movements were not planned. Overall, results provide partial evidence to support the notion of reduced mimicry among individuals with high social anxiety. Future research can further evaluate the contexts in which those with high levels of social anxiety may mimic less, as well as factors that may play a role (e.g., self-focused attention), to enhance the probability of a positive interpersonal interaction for these individuals.

publication date

  • January 2018