From physics to social interactions: Scientific unification via dynamics

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The principle of dynamical similitude—the belief that the same behavior may be exhibited by very different systems—allows us to use mathematical models from physics to understand psychological phenomena. Sometimes, model choice is straightforward. For example, the two-frequency resonance map can be used to make predictions about the performance of multifrequency ratios in physical, chemical, physiological and social behavior. Sometimes, we have to dig deeper into our dynamical toolbox to select an appropriate technique. An overview is provided of other methods, including mass-spring modeling and multifractal analysis, that have been applied successfully to various psychological phenomena. A final demonstration of dynamical similitude comes from the use of the same multifractal method that was used to extract team-level experience from the neurophysiological data of individual team members to the analysis of a large scale economic phenomenon, the stock market index. Continual development of analytical methods that are informed by and can be applied to other sciences allows us to treat psychological phenomena as continuous with the rest of the natural world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)640-657
Number of pages18
JournalCognitive Systems Research
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • Coordination
  • Dynamics
  • Modeling
  • Multifractal
  • Nesting
  • Social

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Artificial Intelligence


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