My research centres around interactional synchrony and its social consequences. Synchrony occurs every day of our lives, whether it’s the internal coupled oscillations of our own cells, the matching of breathing paced with interlocutors, or the synchronising of menstrual cycles of women living in close quarters. It’s most commonly observed in the way people’s strides can synchronise when walking side by side. All of this happens without us ever being aware of it and normally without us asserting any conscious control over it.
This movement coordination is more likely to occur between people you share some bond or connection with and, what’s more, it seems some synchronised actions may have a number of effects on us from; making us feel more similar, building rapport, even facilitating joint action and co-operation, perhaps even allowing us to become more likely to trample insects at each other’s bequests. Synchrony seems to foster an array of social effects that could help explain well-known phenomenon such as why armies marching together in time may commit atrocities, why individuals can lose their sense of individuality identity and responsibility in mobs, and why people report feelings of elated joy and togetherness after raves and rock concerts.
However the current literature is a muddle of different methodologies, measures and confounding variables (current entrainment methods being employed range from synchronised arm curls to waving cups in time to a neighbouring country’s national anthem), making it difficult to identify how moving in time with people effects on our social cognitions and behaviours. My research involves identifying a simple, well understood, controllable, coordinated rhythmic movement task capable of fostering such social consequences which can be used as a test bed to investigate what mechanisms may be underpinning this phenomena, to begin to explore how it does so and how the process relates to inter- and intra- personal dynamics.