Who syncs? Social motives and interpersonal coordination

Joanne Lumsden, Lynden K. Miles, Michael J. Richardson, Carlene A. Smith, C. Neil Macrae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)


Interpersonal synchrony provides an important foundation for social interaction, as periods of temporal coordination lead to enhanced sociality. Moreover, synchronous actions are governed by lawful physical principles of coordination dynamics, suggesting some degree of inevitability. However, both anecdotal and laboratory evidence indicates that not all individuals synchronize. Here we explored whether differences in social motives (i.e., social value orientation) influence the propensity to coordinate with others. The results revealed that individuals with a pro-social orientation spontaneously coordinated with a confederate to a greater extent than those with a pro-self orientation, regardless of whether such orientations were assessed as dispositional characteristics (Study 1) or were the result of a priming manipulation (Study 2). These findings have important implications for both coordination dynamics and prominent accounts of social exchange.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)746-751
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • interpersonal synchrony
  • social value orientation
  • coordination dynamics
  • cooperation
  • social cognition

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