Automatic mimicry reactions as related to differences in emotional empathy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The hypotheses were based on conceiving of automatic mimicking as involved in emotio¬nal empathy. Mimicry reactions (EMG) in high- and low-empathy subjects were studied when subjects were exposed to pictures of angry or happy faces. The degree of corre¬sponden¬ce between subjects’ facial EMG reactions and their self-reported feelings was compared. The comparisons were made at different stimulus exposure times in order to elicit reactions at different levels of information processing. The high-empathy subjects were found to have a higher degree of mimicking behavior than the low-empathy subjects at short exposure times (17 – 40 milliseconds) and they showed a higher correspondence between facial expressions and self-reported feelings.


  • Marianne Sonnby-Borgström
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Psychology


  • Empathy, emotional contagion, facial expression, automatic reactions, microgenesis, unconscious processing
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-443
JournalScandinavian Journal of Psychology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Publication categoryResearch