Effects of agent-environment symmetry on the coordination dynamics of triadic jumping

Akifumi Kijima*, Hiroyuki Shima, Motoki Okumura, Yuji Yamamoto, Michael J. Richardson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


We investigated whether the patterns of coordination that emerged during a three-participant (triadic) jumping task were defined by the symmetries of the (multi) agent-environment task space. Triads were instructed to jump around different geometrical arrangements of hoops. The symmetry of the hoop geometry was manipulated to create two symmetrical and two asymmetrical participant-hoop configurations. Video and motion tracking recordings were employed to determine the frequencies of coordination misses (collisions or failed jumps) and during 20 successful jump sequences, the jump direction chosen (clockwise vs. counterclockwise) and the patterning of between participant temporal movement lags within and across jump events. The results revealed that the (a)symmetry of the joint action workspace significantly influenced the (a)symmetry of the jump direction dynamics and, more importantly, the (a)symmetry of the between participant coordination lags. The symmetrical participant-hoop configurations resulted in smaller overall movement lags and a more spontaneous, interchangeable leader/follower relationship between participants, whereas the asymmetrical participant-hoop configurations resulted in slightly larger overall movements lags and a more explicit, persistent asymmetry in the leader/follower relationship of participants. The degree to which the patterns of behavioral coordination that emerged were consistent with the theory of symmetry groups and spontaneous and explicit symmetry-breaking are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Issue numberFEB
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2017. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • joint action
  • symmetry
  • symmetry-breaking
  • leader and follower roles
  • social motor coordination


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