Imagined steps: Mental simulation of coordinated rhythmic movements effects on pro-sociality

Liam Cross, Gray Atherton, Andrew D. Wilson, Sabrina Golonka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
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Rhythmically coordinating with a partner can increase pro-sociality, but pro-sociality does not appear to change in proportion to coordination success, or particular classes of coordination. Pro-social benefits may have more to do with simply coordinating in a social context than the details of the actual coordination (Cross, Wilson, & Golonka, 2016). This begs the question, how stripped down can a coordination task be and still affect pro-sociality? Would it be sufficient simply to imagine coordinating with others? Imagining a social interaction can lead to many of the same effects as actual interaction (Crisp & Turner, 2009). We report the first experiments to explore whether imagined coordination affects pro-sociality similarly to actual coordination. Across two experiments and over 450 participants, mentally simulated coordination is shown to promote some, but not all, of the pro-social consequences of actual coordination. Imagined coordination significantly increased group cohesion and deindividuation, but did not consistently affect cooperation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers Psychology
Issue numberOCT
Early online date13 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 13 Oct 2017


  • Coordinated rhythmic movement
  • Imagined contact
  • Interpersonal coordination
  • Interpersonal entrainment
  • Interpersonal synchrony
  • Joint action
  • Mental simulation
  • Rhythmic entrainment


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