Are you feeling what I’m feeling? The role of facial mimicry in facilitating reconnection following social exclusion

Elaine Ooi Yan Cheung*, Erica B. Slotter, Wendi L Gardner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

The present work investigated the interpersonal functions of facial mimicry after social exclusion. Specifically, we examined two distinct functions that facial mimicry may serve in promoting reconnection: facilitating the understanding of others’ emotions and/or fostering interpersonal rapport. Using a novel facial mimicry paradigm, we found that although people exhibited both greater facial mimicry (Studies 1 and 2) and superior emotion-decoding accuracy (Study 2) after exclusion, facial mimicry did not mediate the relationship between exclusion and decoding accuracy (Study 2). Instead, we found support for facial mimicry serving to promote interpersonal rapport. Specifically, in Study 3, naïve judges rated videos of target-participant pairs from Study 1 for social closeness. Findings indicated that pairs with a previously-excluded participant were rated as socially closer than pairs with a previously-included participant (Study 3). Importantly, enhanced facial mimicry was found to mediate the relationship between exclusion and rated closeness. Altogether these findings suggest that facial mimicry may promote reconnection after social exclusion by fostering rapport.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)613-630
Number of pages18
JournalMotivation and Emotion
Volume39
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 27 2015

Keywords

  • Emotion decoding
  • Facial mimicry
  • Rapport
  • Social exclusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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