The Choreography of Group Affiliation

Top Cogn Sci. 2018 Jan;10(1):80-94. doi: 10.1111/tops.12320. Epub 2018 Jan 12.


When two people move in synchrony, they become more social. Yet it is not clear how this effect scales up to larger numbers of people. Does a group need to move in unison to affiliate, in what we term unitary synchrony; or does affiliation arise from distributed coordination, patterns of coupled movements between individual members of a group? We developed choreographic tasks that manipulated movement synchrony without explicitly instructing groups to move in unison. Wrist accelerometers measured group movement dynamics and we applied cross-recurrence analysis to distinguish the temporal features of emergent unitary synchrony (simultaneous movement) and distributed coordination (coupled movement). Participants' unitary synchrony did not predict pro-social behavior, but their distributed coordination predicted how much they liked each other, how they felt toward their group, and how much they conformed to each other's opinions. The choreography of affiliation arises from distributed coordination of group movement dynamics.

Keywords: Affiliation; Coordination; Group behavior; Pro-sociality; Synchrony.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Group Processes*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Time Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult