Timescales of Massive Human Entrainment

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  • Riccardo Fusaroli
  • Marcus Perlman, UnknownAlan Mislove, UnknownAlexandra Paxton, UnknownTeenie Matlock, UnknownRick Dale
The past two decades have seen an upsurge of interest in the collective behaviors of complex systems composed of many agents. In this paper, we extend concepts of entrainment to the dynamics of human collective attention. We demonstrate that large scale human entrainment may hold across a number of distinct scales, in an exquisitely time locked fashion. Using a large scale database of human communication data, we analyze and describe three different time scales of human entrainment in electronic media. We sought a distinct shared experience that provided a test bed for quantifying large scale human entrainment. We conducted a detailed investigation of the real time unfolding of human entrainment, as expressed by the content and patterns of hundreds of thousands of messages on Twitter, during the 2012 US presidential debates. By time locking these data sources, we quantify the real time impact of the debate on human attention. We show that social behavior covaries second by second to the interactional dynamics of the debates: A candidate speaking induces rapid increases in mentions of his name on social media and decreases in mentions of the other candidate. Moreover, interruptions by an interlocutor increase the attention received. We also highlight a distinct time scale for the impact of salient moments in the debate: Mentions in social media start within 5 to 10 seconds after the moment; peak at approximately one minute; and slowly decay in a consistent fashion across well known events during the debates. The methods and results pave the way for careful real time study of the dynamics and mechanisms of large scale human entrainment.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
StatePublished - 29 Oct 2014

    Research areas

  • physics.soc-ph, cs.SI

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