One in the dance: Musical correlates of group synchrony in a real-world club environment
Ellamil M., Berson J., Wong J., Buckley L., Margulies DS.
Previous research on interpersonal synchrony has mainly investigated small groups in isolated laboratory settings, which may not fully reflect the complex and dynamic interactions of real-life social situations. The present study expands on this by examining group synchrony across a large number of individuals in a naturalistic environment. Smartphone acceleration measures were recorded from participants during a music set in a dance club and assessed to identify how group movement synchrony covaried with various features of the music. In an evaluation of different preprocessing and analysis methods, giving more weight to front-back movement provided the most sensitive and reliable measure of group synchrony. During the club music set, group synchrony of torso movement was most strongly associated with pulsations that approximate walking rhythm (100±150 beats per minute). Songs with higher real-world play counts were also correlated with greater group synchrony. Group synchrony thus appears to be constrained by familiarity of the movement (walking action and rhythm) and of the music (song popularity). These findings from a realworld, large-scale social and musical setting can guide the development of methods for capturing and examining collective experiences in the laboratory and for effectively linking them to synchrony across people in daily life.