Sunday, June 13, 2021

Mirroring, Mirror Neurons, and the Uncanny Valley

Have you ever noticed you and your best friend have similar mannerisms? Or how about the fact that you've picked up your friends accent when pronouncing certain words? What about the fact that someone you sat next to just yawned, and now you've done so as well? Well, you and/or your friend have fallen "victim" to mirroring, which occurs when the behavior of one person unconsciously imitates the various aspects (such as speech pattern or gestures) of another, it can be internal or external. We have mirror neurons to thank; these nerve cells become active when watching or hearing another person perform a task. They often respond to multi-sensory information for perceived events. Mirroring and mirror neurons allow us to better connect and understand those around us! It's completely healthy and normal, and is often attributed to establishing empathy, shown as a sign of trust, and facilitates positive behavior toward others.  

Not only does mirroring allow us to establish bonds, but it also allows us to experience a phenomenon called the uncanny valley. This occurs when we experience discomfort at humanoid forms, such as robots and animations, with nearly human characteristics. The uncanny valley ties into the discussion of mirror neurons as the degree of human realism is important to internally mirror the actions of others; if any face characteristic. is convincingly realistic, all other characteristic must be or else the humanoid is considered eerie. 

Photo Credit : WSJ

Here is a great video on mirror neurons :

Works Cited
Green, H. [SciShow Psych]. (2019, June 17). What Do Mirror Neurons Really Do? [Video]. Youtube.

Johnston, R. (2017, October 13). The Psychology of Mirroring. ImagineHealth.

Rosenblum, L.D. (2010). See What I'm Saying: The Extraordinary Powers of Our Five Senses. W.W. Norton & Company. 


  1. Sometimes that mirroring effect can be scary. Especially because it's involuntary. I may not be tired but if my son lays down on me and goes to sleep, I end up falling asleep. It can be fun also. Seeing someone dance makes me want to dance and puts me in a happy mood. Great post Deonna!

  2. I found this post very interesting. Whenever me and my daughter see my wife we both start giggling which she only picked up recently, whereas before I used to hide from my wife as a joke to fool her and my son then followed suit after a bit of doing it. Seems that behavioral patterns are included with mirror neurons causing mimicked actions.