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November 28, 2010

Why we copy each other's body language?

We walk in restaurant or cafe and spot a couple sitting in corner, intimately gazing towards each other and resonating facial expressions. In a bar, two friends stand next to of each other adapting same postures. In a local park, briskly walking senior citizens match their pace with each other along.

Inside an office, two close colleagues defend each other with quite identical gesticulations in front of their superior. Unconsciously, one person adapts posture, gesticulates or expresses emotion on its face and other follows or matches up with it mechanically without thinking about it.

Copying or matching with through body language of others is called as Mirroring or Movement Synchronization. Prof. Dr. David B. Givens (Director of Center of Nonverbal Studies in Spokane (USA) coined a scientific term called as Isopraxis for this unique behavior.

It’s quite interesting to know the secret behind it that is deeply rooted inside our brain. Mirror Neurons in premotor cortex, the supplementary motor area, primary somatosensory cortex, and the inferior parietal cortex allows us to observe, empathize, and imitate other person. Even mirror neurons induce same emotions and feelings in our mind sighting other person or group if we have certain degree of attachment with.

Unconsciously, we like the persons who moves, behaves or expresses alike ourselves. We feel safe and nurtured when other person complements us, shares our distress and delights and makes us feel better about ourselves. After all, it’s about forming relationship and staying in it. Mirroring is evident to uniform feeling, understanding, thinking, planning and persuasion.

Mirroring runs deep in society, from an early age. You may find children are quite quick and smart in mirroring their parents for venting their anger and win favor or attention. Dancing, singing, playing instruments, walking together in a large group and exercising in synchrony creates mesmerizing and dramatic effects.

Especially during courtship, most women are found or can be observed mirroring and copying body language of the men they want to form or have formed a relationship with. They unconsciously convey that they are in agreement and accord with the men of their interest.

Not only humans but animals and birds also do mirror each other to form strong bonding among themselves. In fact, secret behind mirroring in human has been discovered after doing research on monkeys since they share identical genetic profile with us.

Do watch an interesting presentation delivered by Prof. Dr. Vilayanur Ramachandran (Professor of Behavioral Neurology and Psychoanalysis, University of California, United States of America) at TED on discovery and function of Mirror Neurons.

However, the conscious mirroring is good for convincing or sympathizing only in appropriate situations and at proper degree. It’s not useful if the initiating person becomes aware of it and express distress. Please read these interesting conclusions by a researcher at University of California, San Diego.

Related Articles:
1) Like attracts like 2) Making true friends 3) Secret behind imitation 4) Secondary Attraction 5) Facial Feedback: World smiles with you!

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