Strangers in sync: Achieving embodied rapport through shared movements

J Exp Soc Psychol. 2012 Jan;48(1):399-402. doi: 10.1016/j.jesp.2011.07.015.


This paper examines the emergence of behavioral synchrony among strangers in the context of self-disclosure, and their path in predicting interaction quality. Specifically, we hypothesize that behavioral synchrony mediates the direct effect of self-disclosure on the development of embodied rapport. Same-sex stranger pairs (n=94) were randomly assigned to a videorecorded self-disclosure or control condition, and afterward each member rated their social interaction. Following the procedure used by Bernieri, Reznick, & Rosenthal (1988), two trained judges independently watched each video record and rated each pair interaction on behavioral synchrony. Bootstrapping analyses provide support for the hypothesized mediating effect of behavioral synchrony, which emerged as independent of the effects of self-other overlap and positive affect. The authors discuss implications of behavioral synchrony for relationship formation processes and the inevitable entwinement of behavior and judgments in light of embodied cognition.