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From Mimicry to Trust: A Tinbergian Approach

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






Project "CoPAN" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
address: RAPENBURG 70
city: LEIDEN
postcode: 2311 EZ

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Netherlands [NL]
 Total cost 1˙500˙000 €
 EC max contribution 1˙500˙000 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2018-STG
 Funding Scheme ERC-STG
 Starting year 2019
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2019-06-01   to  2024-05-31


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 
1    UNIVERSITEIT LEIDEN NL (LEIDEN) coordinator 1˙500˙000.00


 Project objective

Many daily decisions are made through quick evaluations of another’s trustworthiness, especially when they involve strangers. Individuals rely on a partner’s tractable characteristics, including expressions of emotion. These are readily mimicked even down to the physiological level. I here propose to investigate which forms of mimicry are empathic and inform decisions of trust and distrust. The mimicry-empathy linkage has come under discussion with the publication of counter-examples in biology and failures of replication in psychology, making the question of what mimicry entails even more important. The key role emotional expressions play in our daily life positions this revived debate around mimicry at the forefront of emotion science. Scientific advancement in this field, however, demands a completely new theoretical and methodological approach. Therefore, I will place mimicry within the Tinbergian framework. Fundamentally, this means that I will incorporate biological and psychological approaches to the study of mimicry and during dyadic interactions, investigate different forms of mimicry simultaneously, e.g. facial mimicry, contagious blushing, pupil mimicry, and their 1) Function: what they are good for. Using economic games, I will study which mimicry forms are related to empathy and inform social decisions; 2) Mechanism: how they operate on the neurophysiological level; 3) Development: how mimicry develops over the lifespan and which mimicry forms are phylogenetically continuous and shared with the bonobo, our closest living relative and link to our last common ancestor. For the first time, humans and bonobos will be directly compared on the basis of their mimicry and trust. This comparison can revolutionize the way humans perceive themselves when it comes to prosocial behaviour.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2020 Linda Jaasma, Isabelle Kamm, Annemie Ploeger, Mariska E. Kret
The exceptions that prove the rule? Spontaneous helping behaviour towards humans in some domestic dogs
published pages: 104941, ISSN: 0168-1591, DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2020.104941
Applied Animal Behaviour Science 224 2020-04-24
2020 Mariska E. Kret, Eliska Prochazkova, Elisabeth H.M. Sterck, Zanna Clay
Emotional expressions in human and non-human great apes
published pages: , ISSN: 0149-7634, DOI: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2020.01.027
Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 2020-04-24
2019 Mariska E. Kret, Elio E. Sjak-Shie
Preprocessing pupil size data: Guidelines and code
published pages: 1336-1342, ISSN: 1554-3528, DOI: 10.3758/s13428-018-1075-y
Behavior Research Methods 51/3 2020-04-24
2020 Justin H G Williams, Charlotte F Huggins, Barbra Zupan, Megan Willis, Tamsyn E Van Rheenen, Wataru Sato, Romina Palermo, Catherine Ortner, Martin Krippl, Mariska Kret, Joanne M Dickson, Chiang-shan R. Li, Leroy Lowe
A sensorimotor control framework for understanding emotional communication and regulation
published pages: 503-518, ISSN: 0149-7634, DOI: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2020.02.014
Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 112 2020-04-24
2020 Evin Aktar, Maartje E. J. Raijmakers, Mariska E. Kret
Pupil mimicry in infants and parents
published pages: 1-11, ISSN: 0269-9931, DOI: 10.1080/02699931.2020.1732875
Cognition and Emotion 2020-04-24
2019 Juan Olvido Perea-García, Mariska E. Kret, Antónia Monteiro, Catherine Hobaiter
Scleral pigmentation leads to conspicuous, not cryptic, eye morphology in chimpanzees
published pages: 19248-19250, ISSN: 0027-8424, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1911410116
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116/39 2020-04-24
2019 François Quesque, Friederike Behrens, Mariska E. Kret
Pupils say more than a thousand words: Pupil size reflects how observed actions are interpreted
published pages: 93-98, ISSN: 0010-0277, DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2019.04.016
Cognition 190 2020-04-24

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