Group dynamics: moving in unison

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Group dynamics: moving in unison
Group dynamics: moving in unison

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Our brain loves synchronous mode. Whether it's dancing, rowing or clapping together - synchronous activities strengthen the community and make you happy.

If he had to rescue a colleague in his marching band from a crashed car, Steve Marx would have no hesitation in throwing himself into the heavy traffic. The marching band master at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania says the bond between members is extremely strong, akin to that of a family. He has been involved in such musical groups for more than 20 years. All wear matching uniforms as they march forward with their musical instruments in perfect harmony. Left leg, right leg - movements and sounds are synchronized in such a way that individual people disappear behind the group's powerful synchronous beat. The appeal isn't even so much in the music, Marx admits. For him, marching is all about being together.

Many group activities increase our sense of community, but research shows that synchronous activities create even stronger social bonds. Rowing, dance choreographies, choral singing, or just finger tapping in unison-all of these, according to studies, are said to increase trust and tolerance towards others, more so than uncoordinated activities do. It's even said to make us endure pain better.

Brain researchers are only gradually understanding why this is so. It is a complicated interaction of all possible factors, says psychologist Laura Cirelli from the University of Toronto in Canada. Not only perception and cognition played a role, but also the interactions of certain hormones with nerve cells in the brain.

Some animals also align their movements with each other. Dolphins, for example, move through the water in perfectly synchronized paths, and even some species of fireflies flash in unison. According to behavioral researchers, this promotes social cohesion and the search for a partner …

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