Evaluating the interplay between sub-clinical levels of mental health symptoms and coordination dynamics

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Viewed under the broad theoretical umbrella of an embodied–embedded approach to psychological activity, body movements can be seen to play an essential role in shaping social interaction. Of note, research concerning the embodiment of social cognition has documented key differences in non‐verbal behaviour during social interaction for individuals diagnosed with a range of disorders, including social anxiety disorder and autism spectrum disorder. The present work sets out to extend these findings by better understanding the interplay between subclinical variation in psychopathology and social‐motor coordination, a key component of effective interaction. We asked participants, in pairs, to swing hand‐held pendula that varied in their intrinsic movement characteristics. Extending previous clinically oriented work (Varlet et al., 2014, Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 8, 29), our results indicated that subclinical variation in mental health status was predictive of disruption to the patterns of coordination dynamics that characterize effective social exchange. This work provides further evidence for the utility of theorizing social interaction as a self‐organizing dynamical system and strengthens support for the claim that disruption to interpersonal coordination may act as an embodied–embedded marker of variation in mental health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)782-804
Number of pages23
JournalBritish Journal of Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020


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