Does being physically in sync with someone else build rapport?



The temporal coordination of behavior during dyadic interactions is a foundation for effective social exchange with synchronized actions enhancing perceptions of rapport and interpersonal connectedness. What has yet to be established, however, are the precise characteristics of behavioral coordination that give rise to such effects. Informed by a dynamical systems approach, the current investigation considered whether judgments of rapport are influenced by the mode of interpersonal synchrony. In two experiments, participants rated the degree of rapport manifest by a simulated pair of walkers exhibiting various configurations of synchronized strides. The results revealed that the highest levels of rapport were associated with the most stable forms of interpersonal coordination (i.e., in-phase and anti-phase synchrony), regardless of whether coordination between the walkers was conveyed via the presentation of visual (Expt. 1a) or auditory (Expt. 1b) cues. These findings underscore the importance of interpersonal coordination to core aspects of social perception.

Source: “The rhythm of rapport: Interpersonal synchrony and social perception” from Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Volume 45, Issue 3, May 2009, Pages 585-589 

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