A term first coined by Chartrand and Bargh in 1999, the “chameleon effect” refers to the unconscious mimicry of postures, mannerisms, facial expressions, and other behaviours such that one partner in an interaction passively and unintentionally changes his body positions to match that of others. He further describes that this changes are context specific and person specific. There are some key points in this idea. First is that the mirroring happens without conscious awareness, which will become important later as we explore the applications of mirroring. Second, a persons perception of another’s behaviour works to increase the likelihood of it appearing in others.
In other studies it was observed that nonverbal mirroring increased over time within a group of people. Rapport, liking, empathy and group building also increases over time. When students were asked to mirror the nonverbal language of their instructor they reported a stronger sense of involvement with them. It has even been reported that the absence of mirroring can even produce differences amongst people instead of just inhibiting cohesion.