Imagining is Not Observing: The Role of Simulation Processes Within the Mimicry-Liking Expressway

Research output: Journal contributionsJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


  • Wojciech Kulesza
  • Nina Chrobot
  • Dariusz Dolinski
  • Paweł Muniak
  • Dominika Bińkowska
  • Tomasz Grzyb
  • Oliver Genschow

Individuals automatically mimic a wide range of different behaviors, and such mimicking behavior has several social benefits. One of the landmark findings in the literature is that being mimicked increases liking for the mimicker. Research in cognitive neuroscience demonstrated that mentally simulating motor actions is neurophysiologically similar to engaging in these actions. Such research would predict that merely imagining being mimicked produces the same results as actually experiencing mimicry. To test this prediction, we conducted two experiments. In Experiment 1, being mimicked increased liking for the mimicker only when mimicry was directly experienced, but not when it was merely imagined. Experiment 2 replicated this finding within a high-powered online sample: merely imagining being mimicked does not produce the same effects as being actually mimicked. Theoretical and practical implications of these experiments are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Nonverbal Behavior
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)233-246
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 01.09.2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by: NCN (Narodowe Centrum Nauki – Polish National Science Centre), Preludium Bis 1 grant, granted to Wojciech Kulesza (Number: 2019/35/O/HS6/00420). Open access of this article was financed by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education in Poland under the 2019–2022 program, Regional Initiative of Excellence", Project Number 012/RID/2018/19.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).

    Research areas

  • Chameleon effect, Imagination, Imitation, Liking, Mental simulation, Mimicry
  • Business psychology