Wu, D. W.-L., Chapman, C. S., Walker, E., Bischof, W. F., and Kingstone, A. (2013). Isolating the perceptual from the social: Tapping in shared space results in improved synchrony. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 2013 (in press).
Current theory suggests that interpersonal synchrony is an important social behaviour in that it not only serves as a form of "social glue", but it also arises automatically in a social context. Theorists suggest potential mechanisms for interpersonal synchrony, ranging from a "low-level" social-perceptual system account to a "high-level" social-motivational explanation. Past studies that suggest synchrony can be influenced by social factors do not discriminate between these accounts. The current investigation seeks to isolate the effect of the high-level social system on interpersonal synchrony by investigating the effects of spatial proximity on unintentional coordinated tapping between two naive participants. Dyads performed a synchronization-continuation task either in the same room, in different rooms, or in different rooms but with the ability to hear each other tap. Participant taps were represented by a box that flashed on the monitor to control visual information across all three conditions. Same-room dyads had increased coordination over different-room dyads, while dyads that shared audio but were in different rooms showed an intermediate level of coordination. The present study demonstrates that shared space, independent of perceptual differences in stimuli, can increase unintentional coordinated tapping.
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