Only empathy-related traits, not being mimicked or endorphin release, influence social closeness and prosocial behavior.
Rauchbauer B., Jank G., Dunbar RIM., Lamm C.
Seminal studies suggest that being mimicked increases experienced social closeness and prosocial behavior to a mimicking confederate (i.e., interaction partner). Here we reexamine these results by considering the role of empathy-related traits, an indirect proxy for endorphin uptake, and their combined effects as an explanation for these results. 180 female participants were mimicked or anti-mimicked in an interaction with a confederate. The effects of being mimicked versus anti-mimicked in relation to empathy-related traits and endorphin release (assessed indirectly via pain tolerance) on experienced closeness and prosocial behavior were assessed using Bayesian analyses. Our results suggest that high individual empathy-related traits increase social closeness to the anti-mimicking and mimicking confederate and to one's romantic partner, as compared to mimicry alone. Results furthermore strongly suggest that high individual empathy-related traits increase prosocial behavior (donations and willingness to help) as compared to mimicry alone. These findings extend previous work by highlighting that empathy-related traits are more influential in creating positive effects on social closeness and prosocial behavior than a one-shot mimicking encounter.