Date of Award

Summer 8-20-2021

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Mollie Ruben

Second Committee Member

Shannon McCoy

Third Committee Member

Jordan LaBouff

Additional Committee Members

Rebecca Schwartz-Mette


The human propensity to synchronize their behaviors to one another seems to be an ever-present aspect of our social lives. While a breadth of approaches have been taken to explain this phenomenon, the benefit of individuals temporally aligning their behaviors to one another during an interaction remains to be precisely identified. Some have argued that by becoming synchronized to the movements and actions of another, one may become a better perceiver of that other’s internal attributes (Hoehl et al., 2021). The purpose of the present thesis was to explore this potential benefit of synchrony by examining its relation to one’s ability to accurately judge the personality traits and affective states of an interaction partner. A secondary purpose was to explore whether these two interpersonal processes central to face-to-face interactions, synchrony and interpersonal accuracy, would be hindered if they took place over a videoconferencing platform. Groups of two strangers (N = 196 participants, N = 98 dyads) logged onto a videoconferencing platform (Zoom) with an experimenter and were asked to engage in a five-minute long recorded “getting-to-know-you” interaction. Subsequently, participants were asked to complete a variety of questionnaires including judgments of their partner’s personality traits and affective states from the prior interaction. Accuracy for judgments of personality traits and affective states was operationalized as the correlation between participant’s judgments of their partners states and traits, and their partner’s self-reported states and traits. The recordings derived from these interactions underwent rigorous coding by eight trained research assistants in order to determine the extent to which interactants’ behaviors were synchronized with one another during the first 30-seconds, middle 30-seconds, and last 30-seconds of conversation. Results supported that dyads whose movements were more synchronized with one another during their interaction were subsequently more accurate judges of their interaction partner’s personality traits and affective states. However, this relationship was only significant when examined during the beginning of the interaction, indicating that becoming temporally aligned to an interaction partner within the first 30-seconds of conversation seems to be most important for facilitating accuracy for interpersonal judgments of that person. In addition, the predictive validity relationships observed between synchrony, interpersonal accuracy, and a collection of theoretically-related outcome variables suggested that individuals’ tendency to synchronize with one another, as well as form accurate judgments of another’s states and traits, was likely not substantially hindered by videoconferencing platforms. These findings not only help refine existing theoretical frameworks regarding synchrony and accuracy, but help to address core questions regarding the benefits of humans’ innate tendency to synchronize their behaviors with one another.

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Psychology Commons