Body Language Mimicry and Hypnotism

Previously I discussed how body language mimicry increases affection by helping the mimicker see the other person as they want to be seen.

Over a decade after it was conducted I’ve now read details of “the first rigorous study looking at body language mimicry” and its effects. Affectionately known as ‘the chameleon effect’, three questions were asked:

  1. Do people automatically mimic others, even strangers?
  2. Does mimicry increase liking?
  3. Do high-perspective-takers exhibit the chameleon effect more?

The answer to each of these questions was a resounding Yes, however it was the link to hypnotism that interested me the most:

One influential theory of hypnosis says that in the hypnotic state the conscious will is weakened so that suggestions from the hypnotist are carried out automatically.

This is actually an extreme version of what happens when we mimic other people’s body language. In some senses, when two people are really getting along, their feet-waggling and face-touching in perfect harmony, it’s like they’ve hypnotised each other.

Eric Barker also highlights the important sentences from the abstracts of five studies looking at body language mimicry and its effects.