People with similar movement rates improve group performance

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Toronto, Feb 10 (IANS) From walking to talking to producing music, different people’s movements occur at different speeds but a new study has found that a group can improve its performance by having people with similar movement rates.

“We found that pairs of musicians (pianists) with similar rates of solo music performance are better at synchronising the timing of tone onsets during piano duets than partners with different solo performance rates,” said one of the researchers Caroline Palmer, professor at McGill University in Montreal in Canada.

“We think this could extend to interpersonal synchrony in other fields, such as recreational activities like jogging, where health benefits may be greatest when partners are matched for rates,” Palmer noted.

The research team found that solo rates are a stable predictor of coordination between individuals.

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They found no group differences in other factors known to influence coordination, such as years of musical training and age at which pianists started musical training.

This suggests that solo rates are the only difference in partners’ duet coordination between matched and mismatched pairs.

“These findings suggest that coordination of timing with a partner is facilitated by similarity of partners’ individual movement speeds,” study first author Anna Zamm from McGill University noted.

The study appeared in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance.

“Success on group tasks is linked to how well pair members match up — a bit like rowers in a boat. The boat will move straight ahead if both people are matched in the force with which they row”, Palmer explained.

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“It does not matter whether each individual is strong or weak — it’s the match in force that matters,” Palmer pointed out.

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