A 1999 study by Tanya Chartrand and John Bargh, showed that forced mirroring had a positive effect on liking. In this study, half of the time researchers either mimicked or did not mimic subjects. The remaining actions and behaviours remained the same across both groups meaning that the only factor being manipulated was either mimicry or lack thereof. The participants who had been mimicked reported a greater liking and reported that the conversation carried on much smoother then what was reported by subjects that did not receive any mirroring.
Another study showed that mimicry arouse spontaneously amongst strangers. In this study, participants were examined interacting on two separate occasions. In the first session the researcher interacted with the subject while purposely rubbing their face and in the second, they shook their foot. Videotapes of the session showed that the participants mirrored the actions of the researcher, that is, when the researcher rubbed their face, they did too, and when they shook their foot, so too did the subject. At the end of the study, when asked of their awareness of their mannerisms the subjects pleaded ignorance to their mimicry. This suggests that imitation when around others is spontaneous and happens without prompting. In other words, we naturally imitate others.
Dutch researcher Rick van Baaren and colleagues in a 2003 study demonstrated that mirroring leads to a greater sense of closeness between people. In this marketing study, body posture and mannerisms of participants was either imitated or not. Subjects that were mirrored rated the researchers significantly higher on a closeness rating scale. Thus, despite feigned mirroring, subjects still reported greater liking. In a second study it was found that tipping size increased by sixty-eight percent simply by verbally repeated the orders of patron and in a third study, individuals were more likely to help someone who had dropped items when they had been previously mirrored.
Mirroring can therefore be a powerful and practical tool when used deliberately as evidenced by the research. The research suggests that the propensity to mirror is an adaptive way to converse more efficiently and smoothly. Several other studies show us that people are both more likely to imitate others whom they like, and also like those of which they imitate. This has implications on persuasion since liking has a profound effect on our influence of others. The research also tells us that others are not normally aware of the mirroring that is happening around them, nor of the effect mirroring has on their actions and beliefs. In essence, mirroring is an effective and powerful tool which can be used to create bonds, build rapport, and in essence, get what we want from others.