Because the oxytocinergic (OT) system has previously been linked to regulation of complex social cognition and behavior, we examined whether intranasal administration of OT would modulate synchronization during a real-life dance paradigm. The current study examined pairs of friends while dancing after intranasal administration of OT or placebo. Motion tracking software and a computational model were utilized to measure synchrony between the partners as manifested in the velocity of their movements. In line with our predictions, OT increased synchrony between partners. This effect was stronger for individuals with higher trait empathy scores. We concluded that the OT system plays an important role in promoting interpersonal synchrony during dance, suggesting that OT underlies the kinesthetic dimension of empathy. Although the biological mechanisms underlying empathy have been studied extensively, scientifically validated knowledge about the kinesthetic dimension of empathy is still lacking. The current study supports the hypothesis that interpersonal synchronization in body movement could be a marker of kinesthetic empathy.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was funded by the Israeli Science Foundation (ISF), project no. 959/18.
© 2019, The Author(s).
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