Cordula Vesper

Making oneself predictable: Reduced temporal variability facilitates joint action coordination

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Performing joint actions often requires precise temporal coordination of individual actions. The present study investigated how people coordinate their actions at discrete points in time when continuous or rhythmic information about others’ actions is not available. In particular, we tested the hypothesis that making oneself predictable is used as a coordination strategy. Pairs of participants were instructed to coordinate key presses in a two-choice reaction time task, either responding in synchrony (Experiments 1 and 2) or in close temporal succession (Experiment 3). Across all experiments, we found that coactors reduced the variability of their actions in the joint context compared with the same task performed individually. Correlation analyses indicated that the less variable the actions were, the better was interpersonal coordination. The relation between reduced variability and improved coordination performance was not observed when pairs of participants performed independent tasks next to each other without intending to coordinate. These findings support the claim that reducing variability is used as a coordination strategy to achieve predictability. Identifying coordination strategies contributes to the understanding of the mechanisms involved in real-time coordination.
Original languageEnglish
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Volume211
Issue3-4
Pages (from-to)517-530
ISSN0014-4819
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

    Research areas

  • Temporal Coordination, Joint Action, Coordination Strategy, Predictability

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