DEPARTMENT OF ANTHROPOLOGY- HUMAN BEHAVIOR RESEARCH | human motion
The courtship dance:
patterns of non-verbal synchronisation in opposite sex-encounters
Karl Grammer, Kirsten B. Kruck and Magnus S. Magnusson
(Journal of Non-Verbal Behavior 22(1) 1998, pp 3-29)
Supplement to the publication
This study was unable to demonstrate a relation between synchronization defined in terms of movement echo or position mirroring and subjective experience of pleasure and interest in opposite-sex encounters. Significant results could only be found for a phenomenon we describe as hierarchically patterned synchronization. These patterns were identified with the help of a newly developed search algorithm (THEME). If a female is interested in a male, highly complex patterns of behavior with a constant time structure emerge. The patterns are pair-specific and independent from behavioral content. This rhythmic structure of interactions is discussed in functional terms of human courtship.
We found that synchronization exists on a completely different level than expected, with highly complex time structures, where inter-individual timing rapport between movements can be extended over considerable time spans. This method is complementary to other methods used to describe synchrony. Its drawbacks are basically the enormous coding effort. Hierarchical patterns of synchronization are present in all types of interactions and are independent of the sex of the interactants. Moreover, it seems to be independent from the content of behavior and it is highly idiosyncratic, because there is no correspondence in patterns between pairs. Each pair seems to put up its own rhythmic structure in an interaction. (See text and examples below )
synchronisation in interactions is thought to be an expression of mutual
understanding of the interactants. In this work it was not possible to
demonstrate a relation between synchronisation defined in terms of movement
echo or position mirroring and subjective experience of pleasure and interest
in opposite sex-encounters. Significant results could only be found for
a phenomenon we describe as hierarchically patterned synchronisation.
These patterns were identified with the help of a newly developed search
algorithm. The material we analysed were 48 ten minutes interactions between
strangers of the opposite sex. The subjects were selected randomly from
visitor groups of the institute pretending that they would participate
in a rating experiment. After introducing the experiment the experimenter
left the couple alone in order to reply to an "urgent phone call".
The interaction then was videotaped through a one way screen (see Grammer,
1991). As controls 12 encounters between strangers of the same sex (6
female-female; 6 male-male) were used. The participants were of a mean
age of 18.5 years. If a female is interested in a male highly complex
patterns of behaviour with a constant time-structure emerge. The patterns
are pair-specific and independent from behavioural content. This rhythmic
structure of interactions is discussed in functional terms of human courtship.
The newly developed model model views behavioural organisation as a repetition of a particular type of intra- and inter-individual, hierarchical/syntactical behaviour patterns, each of which is characterised by similar time intervals between its repetition branches. Patterns of this kind occur in a cyclical fashion, although this is not one of their defining characteristics. The pattern definition and the corresponding pattern detection method focuses on the relationships between the occurrence times series of various behavioural event types which constitute the data for the pattern detection software.
Each series of three pictures in one line shows a pattern which was isolated by THEME (Click on the series will load down an P1:1.3; P2: 2.9; P3: 3.8 mb MPEG movie of the series; 10 Frames/sec, bw). The pattern consist of three elements which are repeated three times. All three patterns are identical: the male leans back, the female touches her hair, and then her face. The temporal sequence organisation is identical for all three patterns as shown in the graph below. The x-axis shows the time of occurence in a 10-minute experiment, the y-axis the number of the movement. The starting pattern occured as movement number 4, 9 and 11. Notice that there are 4 movements between the first element (Male leans Back) and the second element (Female Touches Hair), and one movement between the seond and the last element (Female Touches Face) in the starting pattern. In the first repetititon there are 3 respectively 25 movements seeded between the pattern members. And the members of the second repetition are seperated by 11 respectively 10 other movements. The second pattern starts at a 174.6 sec interval from the first pattern and the third patterns starts in a 362.6 sec interval from the second. Internal time structure is coherent: 9.4 -> 4.1 sec difference in the first pattern (second pattern 6.0 ->31.6, third pattern 18.2 -> 21.8).
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