Sunday, April 4, 2021

The pleasures of interpersonal synchrony

For example, from the article:

A series of experiments in Hungary, published in 2019, suggests that walking in sync with a person from an ethnic minority can reduce prejudice. Negative stereotyping of Roma people is prevalent in Hungary. When researchers asked non-Roma to assign positive or negative words to pictures of traditionally dressed Roma people, they used more negative words. When the same group looked at pictures of traditionally dressed Hungarian people, they used more positive words. Then the investigators asked the non-Roma to walk laps around a large room either in sync or out of sync with someone who was introduced as Roma. When later the researchers asked about the volunteers' feelings toward the Roma, those who engaged in synchrony expressed a greater sense of closeness and indicated more desire to see their partners again.

Another example:

Synchronous finger tapping, for example, can prompt people to be more generous when donating money. In a series of experiments published in 2017 in Basic and Applied Social Psychology, researchers divided volunteers into groups of six, which were then further split into subgroups of three. After members briefly worked together on a group activity, they were given various scenarios for splitting money among themselves and asked to whom they would give. If they then spent time tapping fingers in synchrony with their little trio only, they were more willing to donate money to those people. But if two of these trios tapped in sync—forming a group of six for a few minutes—the members were more likely to donate to all six. Asynchronous tapping, meanwhile, did nothing to boost generosity. A 2017 meta-analysis of 42 studies confirmed that synchronous activities, from running in sync to rocking in chairs at the same pace, prompt people to behave prosocially.

And another, this time involving music and something a bit like dance:

Psychologist Robin Dunbar of Oxford believes that by facilitating prosocial behaviors and cooperation, synchrony could have encouraged bonding in groups of early humans as their populations grew. He has been researching synchrony for years, a fascination that started at a conference on the archaeology of music. One of the evening sessions was unusual. A musician from South Africa invited Dunbar and other attendants to participate in something resembling a traditional Zulu dance. He told them to stand in a circle, handed them plastic pipes cut to different lengths and instructed them to blow across the top of the pipes, making random noise, and to start walking around the circle. At first, Dunbar says, the noise was horrible, but after a few minutes the sounds and movements changed without particular effort, the scientists became synchronized, playing music in a consistent tune with one another. “Everybody felt this sense of belonging, being part of the group. I realized this was an amazing effect,” he says.

Later on the article has examples showing effects on endorphin levels.

1 comment:

  1. Another take on why people keep on scrolling through their phones while walking through city traffic.