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Music, interpersonal synchrony, and social affiliation

Faculty Advisor




synchronous movement, social affiliation

Abstract (summary)

Research suggests that moving synchronously with others increases social affiliation as it blurs the boundary between “self” and “other” and allows group members to focus on a shared goal. In the real world, few synchronous movement behaviours are performed without the backdrop of a musical beat to support them (i.e., tribal rituals, soldiers marching, dancing during concerts). However, to our knowledge, only one previous study examined the role of music in the association between synchronous movement and social affiliation. To examine this question, we had participants watch a 3-minute dance video in groups of 3-4. They either mimicked the dance moves in the video (moving synchronously) or simply observed the movements while seated, and music was either present or absent. As such, there were four conditions: 1) move with music, 2) move without music, 3) observe with music, 4) observe without music. Participants then completed a series of questionnaires; our dependent measures focused on social affiliation (i.e., entitativity, inclusion of other in self, trustworthiness) and prosocial behaviours (i.e., helping). We hypothesize that 1) the movement groups will show greater social affiliation and prosocial behaviour than the observation groups, and 2) the group moving to music will show the strongest effect. If hypothesis 2) is supported, we suspect that it will result from an increased mood and/or a higher degree of synchronization compared to the other group(s). Because even simple synchronous movements (e.g., finger tapping) generate feelings of community and bonding, the addition of music may enhance or exaggerate this effect.

Publication Information



Presented on April 24, 2017 at Student Research Day held at MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta.

Item Type

Student Presentation




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