Mirroring is the behaviour in which one person copies another person usually while in social interaction with them. It may include miming gestures, movements, body language, muscle tensions, expressions, tones, eye movements, breathing, tempo, accent, attitude, choice of words/metaphors and other aspects of communication.
Despite the fact that the participants reported no awareness of mimicry, it still influenced their evaluations of the interviewee. Critically, participants judged the interviewee who mimicked the condescending interviewer to be less competent than the non-mimicking interviewee. In other words, in the eyes of the outside observers, the imitator of the undesirable model incurred reputational costs — their mirroring was seen as an error.
Rest assured that mirroring is not giving up your own experience or point of view. And it does not mean that you agree with the other person's way of seeing things. It is recognizing that the other person has had an experience too, and that their experience--though different from yours--is equally as valid.
Proponents of the matching and mirroring theory say that if you match the body language of your physicians, they will feel a bond with you. For example, if the doctor takes a relaxed posture, you should take a relaxed posture; if the doctor speaks slowly, you should speak slowly.
Does it work? Could something so simple really be effective? In one study, reported in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, researchers helped waiters match and mirror the behavior of their customers. Tips were increased by 60%.
The concept of mirroring as an ongoing process has been further elaborated and developed by others - perhaps most notably Heinz Kohut (1971; see also Jacoby, 1993),who viewed mirroring as one of two narcissistically invested transference reactions (the other was idealizing transference). On the one hand, the infant seeks the approval of the parent in an act of both recognition and confirmation. On the other hand, the infant seeks to be like the parent in a sense of the parent being the perfect and omnipotent "other".
Jung explains that the anxiety of bringing unconscious aspects of oneself into conscious awareness is mediated by the mirroring of society at large and specifically people in the individual's immediate environment. This would include the organisation in which the person works, making it an integral part of the day-to-day process of self-growth or identity development, as well as a place to hone one's management skills or make one's living.
It is essential that we recognise all aspects of life as opportunities for personality and self-identity development.
Mirroring is said to occur when 2 or more groups operating within the same social system act in similar ways. To investigate the viability of intergroup mirroring as a theoretical construct, the staff group and 2 member groups attending a 4-day conference in 1988 were audiotaped. Each group met 5 times, and each session was 1-1/2 hours in length. A content analysis method was used to identify the conversational themes in each group. The findings suggested that mirroring occurred among the groups in both the total amount of minutes and the percentage of actual group time spent in discussion of the various themes.
Implicit in this conception is a slant towards the positive: a relatively benign acceptance. At one extreme, mirroring has been viewed as an illusory overvaluation of self that may actually endanger the analytic process (Kohut, 1984; Wolf, 1985). From another perspective, however, mirroring is viewed as a benign reflection that enables the patient to feel intuitively understood by the analyst, thereby establishing the basic trust upon which a relationship might be built (Grotstein, 1990).
And in popular culture, mirroring is frequently urged on people as a strategy - for flirting or having a successful date, for closing a sale or acing a job interview. But new research suggests that mirroring may not always lead to positive social outcomes. In fact, sometimes the smarter thing to do is to refrain.
In a study to be published in a forthcoming issue of Psychological Science, Piotr Winkielman and Liam Kavanagh of the psychology department at the University of California, San Diego, along with philosophers Christopher Suhler and Patricia Churchland, also of UC San Diego, note that in real-life situations there are often observers to the mirroring that takes place between two people. This led them to wonder whether mimicry sometimes comes at a reputational cost.
Personality mirroring corresponds with nonverbal mirroring - it tries to match the thought process and style of communication a person prefers. Some people like to socialize as part of the communication process, while others prefer a more direct, task-oriented tact. People tend to favor information that they receive in a pleasing manner, and, consequently, they become more attentive and receptive. Studies have shown that individuals have different personality types for processing information, as well as preferences for how they give and receive information.
Use psychology. "People like people like themselves, so by mirroring the interviewer you are making them more inclined to like you," adds Conway. "If they lean forward or talk quickly, do the same. Practise beforehand. People don't notice -- all they know is that they enjoy your company."