Love and Imitation: Facial Mimicry and Relationship Satisfaction in Younger and Older Couples

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review


  • Margund Rohr - , University of Applied Sciences for Social Work, Education and Nursing Dresden (First author)
  • Maike Svenya Salazar Kämpf - , Leipzig University (Author)
  • Ute Kunzmann - , Leipzig University (Author)


OBJECTIVE: Social mimicry, the imitation of one’s conversation partner, is associated with empathy, liking, and affiliation. Because previous research has mainly focused on young adulthood and zero acquaintances, little is known about age differences in mimicry and its role for romantic relationships.
METHODS: In this study, 37 younger and 41 older couples talked about an ongoing problem faced by one of the partners while being video-recorded. Three independent observers assessed partners’ facial mimicry. After the conversation, couples evaluated the quality of their relationship.
RESULTS: Younger couples imitated each other more than older couples. The link between mimicry and relationship quality was mixed. While facial mimicry was not linked to subjective closeness in either younger or older couples, there was a significant positive association between mimicry and relationship satisfaction in young, but not older, couples.
DISCUSSION: Overall, the results suggest that facial mimicry is a social process that becomes less prevalent and might differ in their function as individuals age.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2010-2018
Number of pages9
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes

External IDs

Scopus 85133299252



  • Couples, Facial mimicry, Life span, Relationship quality, Romantic relationships, Couples, Facial mimicry, Life span, Relationship quality, Romantic relationships