To study the mechanisms of coordination that are fundamental to successful interactions we carried out a joint finger tapping experiment in which pairs of participants were asked to maintain a given beat while synchronizing to an auditory signal coming from the other person or the computer. When both were hearing each other, the pair became a coupled, mutually and continuously adaptive unit of two “hyper-followers”, with their intertap intervals (ITIs) oscillating in opposite directions on a tap-to-tap basis. There was thus no evidence for the emergence of a leader–follower strategy. We also found that dyads were equally good at synchronizing with the irregular, but responsive other as with the predictable, unresponsive computer. However, they performed worse when the “other” was both irregular and unresponsive. We thus propose that interpersonal coordination is facilitated by the mutual abilities to (a) predict the other’s subsequent action and (b) adapt accordingly on a millisecond timescale.
Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 2010, Vol 63, Issue 11, p. 2220-30