341 Synchronous Movement & Opponents

Research by Fessler, Daniel, M., T., & Holbrook, Collin (2014).

Written by Shannon Cantalupo, B.S. 

Previous research suggests that when individuals engage in synchronous movements, there is an increase in cooperation within the group. If that is true, does it follow that moving in sync would make you perceive a prospective adversary as weaker and less of a threat?

University of California researchers were interested in how synchronous movement would relate to how someone views an opponent or enemy. They asked nearly hundred men to walk with one other participant (actually a trained research helper). They asked half the group to walk in sync, the other half to walk at a natural pace. Following their walk, each participant completed a survey rating the body traits of a prospective enemy (a perceived criminal), and answered questions about how they felt while walking.

Results? Men, who walked in sync, reported a greater feeling of bonding and lower negative emotions. Additionally, the in-sync walkers viewed the criminal as less physically threatening.

So, if you’re ever in a conflict with someone, take a walk, in sync with them, before discussing business. You will both likely feel the other is less of a threat.  Thus, you both can focus better on resolving issues!


Fessler, D., M., T., & Holbrook, C. (2014). Marching into battle: Synchronized walking diminishes the conceptualized formidability of an antagonist in men. Biology Letters,         10(8).

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