The interacting partner as the immediate environment: Personality, interpersonal dynamics, and bodily synchronization

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OBJECTIVE: In social interactions, humans tend to naturally synchronize their body movements. We investigated interpersonal synchronization in conversations and examined its relationship with personality differences and post-interaction appraisals.

METHOD: In a 15-minute semi-structured conversation, 56 previously-unfamiliar dyads introduced themselves, followed by self-disclosing and argumentative conversations. Their bodily movements were video-recorded in a standardized room (112 young adults, aged 18-33, mean = 20.54, SD = 2.74; 58% Dutch, 31% German, 11% other). Interpersonal bodily synchronization was estimated as (a) synchronization strength using Windowed Lagged Cross-Correlations and (b) Dynamic Organization (Determinism/Entropy/Laminarity/Mean Line) using Cross-Recurrence Quantification Analysis. Bodily synchronization was associated with differences in Agreeableness and Extraversion (IPIP-NEO-120) and post-conversational appraisals (affect/closeness/enjoyment) in mixed-effect models.

RESULTS: Agreeable participants exhibited higher complexity in bodily synchronization dynamics (higher Entropy) than disagreeable individuals, who also reported more negative affect afterward. Interpersonal synchronization was stronger among extroverts than among introverts and extroverts appraised conversations as more positive and enjoyable. Bodily synchronization strength and dynamic organization were related to the type of conversation (self-disclosing/argumentative).

CONCLUSIONS: Interpersonal dynamics were intimately connected to differences in Agreeableness and Extraversion, varied across situations, and these parameters affected how pleasant, close, and enjoyable each conversation felt.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-201
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Personality
Issue number1
Early online date24-Feb-2023
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2024


  • Personality
  • Agreeableness
  • Extraversion
  • Interpersonal circumplex
  • Synchronization
  • Environment
  • Conversation
  • Argument
  • Affiliation
  • NEO
  • Entropy
  • Lainarity
  • Interpersonal
  • Dominance
  • Nurture

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