The Development of Behavioral Synchrony

Behavioral synchrony is fundamental to social interaction. Although it underlies many forms of social interaction, its development has been studied primarily during stationary, face-to-face interactions between infants and caregivers.

Infant-caregiver social interactions are often so beautifully timed and coordinated that
researchers refer to the partners’ joint behavior as a “dance.” Does the infant-caregiver social dance continue when both partners are free to move across the floor?


Using a combination of machine-learning and time-series analyses, the current study assessed spatiotemporal locomotor synchrony in 13- 15- and 19-month-old infant-mother dyads by tracking each partner’s step-to-step location over time.


Infant-mother synchrony indeed continues onto the “dance floor,” and infants were more likely to take the lead. Dyads’ spontaneous locomotion during free play was highly synchronized, but dyads accomplished
synchrony differently depending on their activity level.