454 Let’s Come Together

Research by Reddish, Paul; Fischer, Ronald; & Bulbulia, Joseph (2013). Let’s Dance Together: Synchrony, Shared Intentionality, and Cooperation. PLoS ONE, 8(8).https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0071182

Written by Robin N. Fatovic M.S.

Across cultures, humans have danced and sung together. Does synchrony, or coordinating in unison with others, bring people together?

New Zealand researchers studied whether synchronized behaviors increase social cooperation. In study 1, some participants performed a series of routine movements with, and others without the sound of a metronome. In study 2, participants in a group read a list of words at tempo, while others read their own list of words in sequence. In study 3, the synchronized group stepped on pedals and lifted their arms in sync. A metronome kept a steady pace and stopped after 20 seconds, with the participants continuing the pace. The other group did the same motions in a sequential manner but only one person was performing the movement at any given time.

Results? Across all studies, synchronous activity coupled with a shared goal promoted social cooperation. There was less cooperation when people engaged in synchrony without a shared goal in mind or when they had a shared goal but engaged in asynchronous behaviors. Researchers suggest that brain activity across people sync during this cooperation to develop a sense of community.

To get people to come together, let’s sync our intentions and actions!

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