Synchronising movements with the sounds of a virtual partner enhances partner likeability

Cogn Process. 2014 Nov;15(4):491-501. doi: 10.1007/s10339-014-0618-0. Epub 2014 May 8.


Previous studies have demonstrated that synchronising movements with other people can influence affiliative behaviour towards them. While research has focused on synchronisation with visually observed movement, synchronisation with a partner who is heard may have similar effects. We replicate findings showing that synchronisation can influence ratings of likeability of a partner, but demonstrate that this is possible with virtual interaction, involving a video of a partner. Participants performed instructed synchrony in time to sounds instead of the observable actions of another person. Results show significantly higher ratings of likeability of a partner after moving at the same time as sounds attributed to that partner, compared with moving in between sounds. Objectively quantified synchrony also correlated with ratings of likeability. Belief that sounds were made by another person was manipulated in Experiment 2, and results demonstrate that when sounds are attributed to a computer, ratings of likeability are not affected by moving in or out of time. These findings demonstrate that interaction with sound can be experienced as social interaction in the absence of genuine interpersonal contact, which may help explain why people enjoy engaging with recorded music.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Female
  • Fixation, Ocular
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Perception*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Sound*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Students
  • Universities
  • User-Computer Interface
  • Young Adult