The Rhythm of Relating: How Emotional Sharing Emerges From Interpersonal Synchrony in Movement, Physiological and Neural Activations.


Whenever people get emotional, be it from an everyday activity like watching a movie or a life-altering event like losing a loved one, people tend to share their feelings with others. Emotional sharing promotes social bonding and is integral to psychotherapy, where the quality of emotional sharing can directly impact mental health. However, emotional sharing is complex. During emotional sharing, people interact dynamically in real time, mutually coordinating their behavioural, physiological, and neurological responses. This makes it challenging to develop a deep scientific understanding of the mechanisms underlying emotional sharing.
The proposed research takes on this challenge by examining how emotional sharing emerges from interpersonal synchrony, i.e., temporal coupling of sharers’ behavioural, physiological, and neurological functions. Drawing from state-of the-art social-cognitive neuroscience, our team will investigate synchrony in bodily movements, physiological responses, and neural activity during emotional sharing (Stage-I). Moreover, we will experimentally manipulate each synchrony type to test its causal impact on emotional sharing (Stage- II). Finally, we will develop an integrative statistical model of these processes (Stages-I&II) and test this model’s validity in the context of psychotherapy (Stage-III).
The proposed research contributes to a paradigm shift by treating emotion regulation not as an intra- psychic phenomenon, but as a process that emerges dynamically from interpersonal exchanges. This new perspective could have profound implications for understanding and administering psychotherapy. More generally, the proposed research will yield a wealth of scientific insights that may facilitate communication in such important life domains as close relationships, business negotiations, and education.





Prof. dr. S.L. Koole

Verbonden aan

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Faculteit der Gedrags- en Bewegingswetenschappen, Klinische, Neuro- en Ontwikkelingspsychologie - KNOP


01/01/2020 tot 31/12/2023