Growing up, I always thought my friends who copied me were annoying. To a certain extent, I still do. I don’t have a problem with someone having genuine similarities with me, but if they are intentionally trying to copy me, then it’s just plain annoying.
So can it be true that the similarities you share (or pretend to share) with other people can make you more likable or popular? Is being a copycat annoying, or flattering? Will mimicking others help you to make more friends in college?
According to psychologists, copying someone (read: the chameleon effect) is the key to making new friends.
While I find blatant copying annoying, I can see how it can facilitate a friendship when done right. It’s just common sense: If you tell a fan of The Real Housewives of the Beverly Hills that you love the show too, then that person is more likely to like you!
Chartrand and Bargh (1999) ran a study on whether copying people would make you more likable to others and did so by placing participants in a room to chat with a stranger about a photograph. The stranger was then asked to mimic (or oppose) the participants tone, style of discussion, reactions, etc.
Later on, the participants not privy to the goal of the study were asked to rate how much they liked the confederate on a scale of 1 to 9.
The researchers found that mimicking someone does make them like you more as opposed to when you’re not mimicking them. Note: There is a difference in mimicking and mocking!
But if you think you would never bother mimicking a person to increase your likability then consider this: Chartrand and Bargh (1999) also found that we subconsciously mimic people without trying to!
So whether you’re trying to make friends or not, your subconscious is ALWAYS trying to make a good impression!