Professor Mark Levine, Dr Miriam Koschate-Reis and Dr Huseyin Cakal from the University of Exeter’s Department of Psychology will produce a series of experiments in laboratory and semi-public spaces which will deepen understanding of the relationship between social identities, social interactions and the spread of emotion in groups.
Professor Mark Levine said: “There are many barriers that prevent people from getting out and about in public. These could include immobility, illness or social distance, like being in another country. The interactions with a robot will allow someone at home to experience being in a crowd. If you were housebound or in a wheelchair and unable to move around easily, you could interact in public by using a robot representative. We are very excited to extend our research in ‘helping’ behaviours and interactions in public to the area of Human Robot Interaction and extend our lab studies to real life interactions in public spaces”.
One focus of the team is behavioural synchrony. An important part of collective experiences, such as festivals, sports events or parades, are activities that induce rhythmic coordinated action. Indeed, rituals involving behavioural synchrony exist in many cultures across the world. One reason for the ubiquity of synchrony in human behaviour appears to be its capacity to facilitate social cohesion and interaction. However, this kind of synchronisation does not have to be organised; humans have the capacity to influence one another in such a way that spontaneous physical synchrony is achieved within a very short period of time.
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