Behavioural Synchrony

Group entrainment

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The purpose of his task is a test of group entrainment. There are two different groups, and the aim is to maximise entrainment and tempo stability within groups, while minimising entrainment and influence between groups.


Participants are divided into two groups. In each group, a group leader has a metronome. The two metronomes are set to different (non-harmonic) tempi, e.g. 85 and 100 BPM. The game has three stages.

Stage 1:

  • the groups huddle to different corners of the room (or separate rooms)

  • group “leaders” have metronomes (mobile app, e.g. Metronome Beats by Stonekick) are started, and the groups are instructed to internalise and embody the beat; they can clap their hands, stomp feet, snap fingers, tap their chest etc., can “choose an instrument” they want to be in the ensemble/drum kit. They are therefore not limited to just tapping/clapping etc. on the beat, but can do so also off-beat, half tempo, double tempo etc., as long as the whole group maintains their original tempo. In the instructions, improvisation should be encouraged, but it is also good to remind the participants that keeping the pattern simple will help in keeping the tempo.

  • in the first stage, there is no interaction between the groups.

Stage 2:

  • the groups face the other group and increase the volume of their pattern. This starts the between-groups interaction.

  • metronomes are turned off, and groups try to maintain their group cohesion and resist entraining with the other group.

Stage 3: 

  • the groups start moving, as groups, around the room. The groups should improvise their movement patterns, but group leaders should gently ensure their group keeps moving all the time, and not just traverse once from their side of the room to the other.

Each stage could take 1-5 minutes. 

Pilot data

coming soon... 


Lucas, G., Clayton, M., & Leante, L. (2011). Inter-group entrainment in Afro-Brazilian Congado ritual. Empirical Musicology Review, 6(2), 75–102.

Spiro, N. & Himberg, T. (2012). Empathy and Resisting Entrainment: Mapping the dimensions of pairwise rhythmic interaction. 16th Annual Symposium for Music Scholars in Finland, Jyväskylä, Finland.


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