Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Mirroring is the subconscious replication of another person's nonverbal signals

In infant-parent interactions, mirroring consists of the parent imitating the infant's expressions while vocalizing the emotion implied by the expression. This imitation helps the infant to associate the emotion with their expression, as well as feel validated in their own emotions as the parent shows approval through imitation. Studies have demonstrated that mirroring is an important part of child and infant development. According to Kohut's theories of self-psychology, individuals need a sense of validation and belonging in order to establish their concepts of self.

(Still unaware of despair, a small boy of Matera, Italy, unconsciously repeats the gesture of his grandmonther's handsю - Matera, Italy; between c.1948 and c. 1955)

When parents mirror their infants, the action may help the child develop a greater sense of self-awareness and self-control, as they can see their emotions within their parent's faces. Additionally, infants may learn and experience new emotions, facial expressions, and gestures by mirroring expressions that their parents utilize. The process of mirroring may help infants establish connections of expressions to emotions and thus promote social communication later in life. Infants also learn to feel secure and valid in their own emotions through mirroring, as the parent's imitation of their emotions may help the child recognize their own thoughts and feelings more readily.

Self-concept
Mirroring has been shown to play a critical role in the development of an infant's notion of self. The importance of mirroring suggests that infants primarily gather their social skills from their parents, and thus a household that lacks mirroring may inhibit the child's social development. Without mirroring, it may be difficult for the child to relate their emotions to socially learned expressions and thus have a difficult experience in expressing their own emotions.

Empathy
The inability to properly mirror other individuals may strain the child's social relationships later in life. This strain may exist because others may feel more distant from the child due to a lack of rapport, or because the child may have a difficult time feeling empathy for others without mirroring. Mirroring helps to facilitate empathy, as individuals more readily experience other people's emotions through mimicking posture and gestures. This empathy may help individuals create lasting relationships and thus excel in social situations. The action of mirroring allows individuals to believe they are more similar to another person, and perceived similarity can be the basis for creating a relationship.

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