Emergent complexity matching in interpersonal coordination: Local dynamics and global variability

Justin Fine, Aaron D. Likens, Eric Amazeen, Polemnia Amazeen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Rhythmic coordination with stimuli and other people's movements containing variable or unpredictable fluctuations might involve distinct processes: detecting the fluctuation structure and tuning to or matching the structure's temporal complexity. This framework predicts that global tuning and local parameter adjustments (e.g., position, velocity or phase) can operate independently during coordination (Marmelat & Delignières, 2012). Alternatively, we propose that complexity matching is a result of local phase adjustments during coordination (Delignières & Marmelat, 2014; Torre, Varlet, & Marmelat, 2013). The current study examined this relationship in a rhythmic interpersonal coordination task. Dyads coordinated swinging pendulums that differed in their uncoupled frequencies (detuning). We predicted that frequency detuning would require increased local corrections to maintain the intended phase pattern (in phase). This was expected to yield a relative phase shift accompanied by a change in period complexity and matching. Experimental data and numerical modeling of the pendulum dynamics confirmed our predictions. Increased relative phase shifts occurred simultaneously with increased dissociation between individuals' movement period complexity. This provided evidence that global complexity matching is intricately linked to local movement adjustments and is not a distinct coordination mechanism. These findings are considered with respect to dynamical and computational approaches to interpersonal coordination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)723-737
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015


  • Anticipatory systems
  • Complexity matching
  • Interpersonal coordination
  • Long-range correlation
  • Motor timing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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