Physiological measures of behavioral mimicry such as EMG recordings of facial

Physiological measures of behavioral mimicry such as

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outgroup, as measured by explicit self-reports. Physiological measures of behavioral mimicry, such as EMG recordings of facial activity (e.g. smiling), find similar results, with mimicry occurring less when observing outgroups than when observing ingroups (Bourgeois & Hess, 2008; van der Schalk et al., 2011).
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EMBODIED PREJUDICE 6 As previously stated, embodied approaches hypothesize that mimicry towards outgroup members may increase empathy. To the author’s knowledge, however, only two studies have actually investigated the causal effects of mimicry on empathy or other prejudice-related factors, such as liking. Below, I discuss both studies. In the first study (van der Schalk et al., 2011), researchers measured automatic mimicry towards ingroup and outgroup targets, as well as self-reports of target liking. Similar to previous findings, participants automatically mimicked ingroup targets more than outgroup targets. Furthermore, the more participants mimicked an ingroup target, the more they subsequently liked the ingroup member. Interestingly, however, subsequent analyses found that mimicry of outgroup targets did not mediate the effect of liking on outgroup members, failing to find support for a causal account of mimicry in liking of outgroups. The second study (Inzlicht, Gutsell, & Legault, 2012) directly manipulated mimicry of outgroup targets by having individuals imitate the actions of an outgroup member (on video) for a few minutes. Results show that individuals who mimicked outgroups later exhibited less implicit prejudice towards the outgroup than individuals who either mimicked the ingroup or did not mimic at all. To account for these findings, Inzlicht and colleagues suggest that mimicry of outgroups may reduce prejudice by enabling ingroups to “understand [the outgroup’s] emotions and needs” (p. 361), but also proposing a number of other possible, mediating mechanisms. While this finding is intriguing, its conclusions may be strongly benefited from further replication, especially when considering the mixed results from van der Schalk and colleagues’ (2011) study on the relationship between mimicry and liking of outgroups.
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EMBODIED PREJUDICE 7 In addition to investigating empathy and liking, embodied approaches have also often proposed that mimicry plays a causal role in emotion recognition accuracy (see Niedenthal et al., 2010), a factor that may play a critical role in producing miscommunication- and anxiety-free intergroup interactions. In previous studies, researchers have primarily tested this hypothesis by inhibiting mimicry of emotional expressions, finding that doing so often reduces emotion recognition accuracy (see Niedenthal et al., 2010). Recent work has also begun to explore the role of mimicry training (i.e. increasing mimicry) as a method for improving emotion understanding in certain populations, such as individuals who are autistic (see Winkielman et al., 2015).
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