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It's All in the Timing: Interpersonal Synchrony Increases Affiliation

Published Online:

The tendency to mimic and synchronize with others is well established. Although mimicry has been shown to lead to affiliation between co-actors, the effect of interpersonal synchrony on affiliation remains an open question. The authors investigated the relationship by having participants match finger movements with a visual moving metronome. In Experiment 1, affiliation ratings were examined based on the extent to which participants tapped in synchrony with the experimenter. In Experiment 2, synchrony was manipulated. Affiliation ratings were compared for an experimenter who either (a) tapped to a metronome that was synchronous to the participant's metronome, (b) tapped to a metronome that was asynchronous, or (c) did not tap. As hypothesized, in both studies, the degree of synchrony predicted subsequent affiliation ratings. Experiment 3 found that the affiliative effects were unique to interpersonal synchrony.