Origins of order in joint activity and social behavior

Brian A. Eiler, Rachel W. Kallen, Steven J. Harrison, Michael J. Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


How should we understand the origins of order and control that entail the systematic regularity of human behavior? Here, we address this question with respect to joint activity and social behavior via an explication of Guy Van Orden's formulation of interaction-dominant dynamics and his provocative discussion of the “blue collar brain.” Using these 2 concepts we argue that human social behavior and performance is not controlled by a cascade of fast timescale activity (i.e., neural processes or individual action) but rather emerges from the modulated enslavement of faster timescale processes by much slower dynamical processes, such as shared task outcomes and socially defined historical context. We detail this argument by reviewing 2 recent behavioral findings that we believe provide evidence that the dynamics of human performance during a socially situated activity is interaction dominant. The first concerns the behavioral coordination that emerges during a novel joint-action collision-avoidance task. The second concerns the effects of stereotype threat on an individual's cognitive performance. Finally, we discuss how identifying the role that the slower timescale dynamics of social events and structures plays in shaping complex behavioral dynamics can guide future research on joint-action and human performance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)316-326
Number of pages11
JournalEcological Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


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