Synchronized Game Play Helps Children Feel Similar and Close To Strangers

April 9, 2015: Hebrew University’s Dr. Ariel Knafo-Noam, along with Dr. Tal-Chen Rabinowitch of the University of Washington, show that playing a computer game in unison for three minutes is all it takes for pairs of unacquainted 8-year-olds to report a greater sense of similarity and closeness.

“Synchronicity is a special form of interaction,” Rabinowitz and Knafo-Noam told Medical Daily in an email. “It can range from completely unintentional and passive to fully intentional and active, but in any case it involves at least some level of sensory-motor interaction between participants.”

Their experiment began when 74 children came to the lab and spent a few minutes side by side in front of a video screen playing a game together.

The simple game involved tapping their fingers in response to a soccer ball bouncing on a video screen. Some children tapped in response to synchronous bouncing balls, others tapped out of sync.

After the game, the children filled out questionnaires about how similar and close they felt to the other unknown child in their pair. Children in the synchronous group reported a greater sense of similarity and closeness than those children who did not play a game with their partner or those who played the game out of sync. Synchrony, Rabinowitz explained, “is a glue that brings people together — it's a magical connector for people.”

“It is interesting that even implicit and passive synchronous interaction is sufficient to shift social attitudes,” Rabinowitz and Knafo-Noam told Medical Daily. When asked whether the experiment might yield different results if the children were not twins — since twins being twins may have a greater inherent feeling for synchronicity than other children — the researchers said they believed non-twins or only children would respond similarly to the game since the twins showed individual differences in their response levels.

For full article in Medical Daily, click here.