Re: virus: empathy and memetics

Robin Faichney (
Wed, 30 Apr 1997 12:01:00 +0100

Tim wrote:
>On Tue, 29 Apr 1997, Robin Faichney wrote:
>> [clip] And
>> mimicry/modelling/whatever you want to call it is, on some accounts
>> at least, empathy in action. To be emotionally in accord is a more
>> common use of the word, but from this point of view is not required.
>> (Developmentally, mimicry would come first, and emotional
>> resonance later, building on it.)
>Have you seen the studies were they've found that emotional state is
>effected by facial features. That is to say, if you smile you will "feel"
>happier than if you frown.

I was very vaguely aware that studies had shown this. I probably
should have said something about it before.

>This suggests that emotions may be as much a
>result of feedback from the body as from the mind. This would make
>mimicry a tool for the transference of emotional states from person to
>person (empathy). So that if you saw someone smiling and you smiled back
>and felt a little better for it, it could be seen as empathy at work.

Absolutely! Though, just to be clear, I'd emphasize that this
could work either way: feeling better because you smile, or smiling
because seeing someone else smile makes you feel better. I'd
guess very often the smiling and the feeling better would be
simultaneous, with the feedback probably going both ways at once.
(Giving a positive feedback loop that is probably damped by
other factors.)

But developmentally, again, mimicry would come first and the
emotional accord later, with association between other's smiles
and feeling good eventually allowing emotional accord without the
mimicry being required.

>Is that close to your point, or did I just murder it completely?

You supported it very nicely, thank you!

(The check's in the mail.)