Interpersonal Autonomic Physiology: A Systematic Review of the Literature

Pers Soc Psychol Rev. 2017 May;21(2):99-141. doi: 10.1177/1088868316628405. Epub 2016 Feb 26.


Interpersonal autonomic physiology is defined as the relationship between people's physiological dynamics, as indexed by continuous measures of the autonomic nervous system. Findings from this field of study indicate that physiological activity between two or more people can become associated or interdependent, often referred to as physiological synchrony. Physiological synchrony has been found in both new and established relationships across a range of contexts, and it correlates with a number of psychosocial constructs. Given these findings, interpersonal physiological interactions are theorized to be ubiquitous social processes that co-occur with observable behavior. However, this scientific literature is fragmented, making it difficult to evaluate consistency across reports. In an effort to facilitate more standardized scholarly approaches, this systematic review provides a description of existing work in the area and highlights theoretical, methodological, and statistical issues to be addressed in future interpersonal autonomic physiology research.

Keywords: autonomic; autonomic nervous system; dyadic interactions; interpersonal physiology; interpersonal processes; physiological coherence; physiological linkage; physiological synchrony; psychophysiology; social psychophysiology.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Autonomic Nervous System / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*