Interpersonal coupling as a framework for studying two-person interactions
1Center of Functionally Integrative Neuroscience, Aarhus University, Denmark, 2Cognitive Systems, DTU Informatics, Lyngby, Denmark
Research in social cognition has so far been mostly restricted to measuring behaviour and brain signatures of isolated individuals, responding to computerized social stimuli. This approach has been criticized, resulting in a recent movement towards a joint-action, two-person approach, which employs studies of real interactions between two or more people. This approach aims to better understand the dynamic processes needed to successfully engage in interaction with others. However, the interpersonal mechanisms of real-time social interactions remain poorly understood. In this talk, I will present approaches to quantifying interpersonal behavioural, physiological, and neural mechanisms underlying both experimentally controlled and real-world social interactions, involving two or more people. Probing the behavioural domain, I will present a joint finger-tapping experiment, showing that people rely on both predictive and adaptive mechanisms on a millisecond timescale when synchronizing with another person. Furthermore, using a two-brain “hyperscanning” approach, I aim to show that being a leader or follower in an interaction has distinct neural mechanisms. Finally, I will present a study of a real-world interaction, showing synchronized physiological patterns between performers and related spectators during a fire-walking ritual, despite different bodily behaviour. I aim to show that interpersonal coupling can be a useful framework for quantifying two-person interactions across different modalities.