How can we amplify impact to foster transformative change?

How can the impact of sustainability and other initiatives be scaled or amplified to achieve transformative change?

There are hundreds of promising sustainability initiatives emerging around the world. A sustainability initiative is, for example, a local food initiative from citizens and farmers who promote healthy and organic food production and consumption. Another example is the installation of solar panels by a community to support the use of renewable energies. Such initiatives provide potential solutions for urgent sustainability problems, for instance, biodiversity loss, climate change, social injustice, and poverty in rural areas or cities.

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Let’s Dance Together: Synchrony, Shared Intentionality and Cooperation

Previous research has shown that the matching of rhythmic behaviour between individuals (synchrony) increases cooperation. Such synchrony is most noticeable in music, dance and collective rituals. As well as the matching of behaviour, such collective performances typically involve shared intentionality: performers actively collaborate to produce joint actions. Over three experiments we examined the importance of shared intentionality in promoting cooperation from group synchrony. Experiment 1 compared a condition in which group synchrony was produced through shared intentionality to conditions in which synchrony or asynchrony were created as a by-product of hearing the same or different rhythmic beats. We found that synchrony combined with shared intentionality produced the greatest level of cooperation. To examinef the importance of synchrony when shared intentionality is present, Experiment 2 compared a condition in which participants deliberately worked together to produce synchrony with a condition in which participants deliberately worked together to produce asynchrony. We found that synchrony combined with shared intentionality produced the greatest level of cooperation. Experiment 3 manipulated both the presence of synchrony and shared intentionality and found significantly greater cooperation with synchrony and shared intentionality combined. Path analysis supported a reinforcement of cooperation model according to which perceiving synchrony when there is a shared goal to produce synchrony provides immediate feedback for successful cooperation so reinforcing the group’s cooperative tendencies. The reinforcement of cooperation model helps to explain the evolutionary conservation of traditional music and dance performances, and furthermore suggests that the collectivist values of such cultures may be an essential part of the mechanisms by which synchrony galvanises cooperative behaviours.

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Posted in Cooperation, Shared intentionality, Synchronization | Tagged , ,

Kindness Counts: Prompting Prosocial Behavior in Preadolescents Boosts Peer Acceptance and Well-Being

At the top of parents’ many wishes is for their children to be happy, to be good, and to be well-liked. Our findings suggest that these goals may not only be compatible but also reciprocal. In a longitudinal experiment conducted in 19 classrooms in Vancouver, 9- to 11-year olds were instructed to perform three acts of kindness (versus visit three places) per week over the course of 4 weeks. Students in both conditions improved in well-being, but students who performed kind acts experienced significantly bigger increases in peer acceptance (or sociometric popularity) than students who visited places. Increasing peer acceptance is a critical goal, as it is related to a variety of important academic and social outcomes, including reduced likelihood of being bullied. Teachers and interventionists can build on this study by introducing intentional prosocial activities into classrooms and recommending that such activities be performed regularly and purposefully.

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Posted in Adolescents, Prosocial behavior, Prosociality | Tagged , ,

Early Development of Prosocial Behavior: Current Perspectives

It is now clear that prosocial behavior of many different sorts appears in the second year of life, possibly earlier for some forms. In a growing number of studies, infants between 12 and 24 months of age have been shown to help, comfort, share, and cooperate with others. The mystery is how such young children can generate these relatively complex, other-oriented behaviors and what could account for their emergence in this period. The papers in this special issue represent some of the most recent and innovative work on questions about the early development of prosocial behavior and potential contributors to its manifestations in infancy.

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Posted in Prosocial behavior, Prosociality | Tagged ,

Interpersonal synchrony feels good but impedes self-regulation of affect

The social benefits of interpersonal synchrony are widely recognized. Yet, little is known about its impact on the self. According to enactive cognitive science, the human self for its stability and regulation needs to balance social attunement with disengagement from others. Too much interpersonal synchrony is considered detrimental for a person’s ability to self-regulate. In this study, 66 adults took part in the Body-Conversation Task (BCT), a dyadic movement task promoting spontaneous social interaction. Using whole-body behavioural imaging, we investigated the simultaneous impact of interpersonal synchrony (between persons) and intrapersonal synchrony (within a person) on positive affect and self-regulation of affect. We hypothesized that interpersonal synchrony’s known tendency to increase positive affect would have a trade-off, decreasing a person’s ability to self-regulate affect. Interpersonal synchrony predicted an increase in positive affect. Consistent with our hypothesis, it simultaneously predicted a weakening in self-regulation of affect. Intrapersonal synchrony, however, tended to oppose these effects. Our findings challenge the widespread belief that harmony with others has only beneficial effects, pointing to the need to better understand the impact of interaction dynamics on the stability and regulation of the human self.

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Posted in Interpersonal synchrony | Tagged

Sync or sink? Interpersonal synchrony impacts self-esteem

Synchronized behavior has significant social influence both in terms of everyday activities (e.g., walking and talking) as well as via more historical contexts (e.g., cultural rituals). Grounded in the science of coordination dynamics, previous research has revealed that interpersonal synchrony has numerous affiliative and pro-social consequences, such as enhanced rapport, cooperation, and social-cognitive functioning. The current study sought to explore the impact of intentional synchrony versus asynchrony on an individual’s self-esteem and their feelings of social connection with a partner. The results revealed that individuals felt better about themselves following a period of synchronous compared to asynchronous movement, while they also perceived a greater self-other overlap with their partner. These findings not only extend previous research on social connections following interpersonal synchrony, but also provide the first demonstration of an influence on self-evaluations. Overall, it appears that moving in time with others may result in us feeling better about ourselves compared to moving to our own rhythm.

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Posted in Interpersonal synchrony, Self‐esteem, Social connections | Tagged , ,

Helicopter Parenting May Negatively Affect Emotional Well-Being and Behavior of Children

It’s natural for parents to do whatever they can to keep their children safe and healthy, but children need space to learn and grow on their own, without Mom or Dad hovering over them, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association. The study, published in the journal Developmental Psychology, found that overcontrolling parenting can negatively affect a child’s ability to manage his or her emotions and behavior.

“Our research showed that children with helicopter parents may be less able to deal with the challenging demands of growing up, especially with navigating the complex school environment,” said Nicole B. Perry, PhD, from the University of Minnesota, and lead author of the study. “Children who cannot regulate their emotions and behavior effectively are more likely to act out in the classroom, to have a harder time making friends and to struggle in school.”

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Posted in Parenting, Parents | Tagged ,

Exploring the Benefits of Doll Play Through Neuroscience

It has long been hypothesized that pretend play is beneficial to social and cognitive development. However, there is little evidence regarding the neural regions that are active while children engage in pretend play. We examined the activation of prefrontal and posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS) regions using near-infrared spectroscopy while 42 4- to 8-year-old children freely played with dolls or tablet games with a social partner or by themselves. Social play activated right prefrontal regions more than solo play. Children engaged the pSTS during solo doll play but not during solo tablet play, suggesting they were rehearsing social cognitive skills more with dolls. These findings suggest social play utilizes multiple neural regions and highlight how doll play can achieve similar patterns of activation, even when children play by themselves. Doll play may provide a unique opportunity for children to practice social interactions important for developing social-emotional skills, such as empathy.

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Posted in Neuroscience, Play | Tagged ,

The Effects of Empathy, Emotional Intelligence and Psychopathy on Interpersonal Interactions

The current study investigated the relationships between empathy (emotional and cognitive), emotional intelligence, psychopathy, emotional contagion, and non-conscious behavioural mimicry (smiles and hand scratches), using self-report scales and a script-based interview session exhibiting nine non-verbal gestures, on a student sample. Past findings suggest a deficit of emotional but not cognitive empathy in psychopaths. Empirical research on non-conscious behavioural mimicry in psychopathy with reference to emotional intelligence is somewhat scarce; however it was proposed that individuals high in psychopathic traits would show reduced emotional mimicry based on the relation of empathy to mimicry. The study was quasi-experimental, involving individual assessment of 51 participants. Results suggest decreased emotional empathy at high levels of psychopathy and show that emotional intelligence moderates the relationship between psychopathy and non-conscious mimicry (smiles per minute). Social competence might be more predictive of effects of psychopathy on non-conscious mimicry.

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Posted in Emotional intelligence, Empathy, Interpersonal interaction | Tagged , ,

Relationship Between Emotional Intelligence and Health Behaviours among University Students

This study investigated the role of gender as a potential predictor of health behaviour and potential moderator of the relationship between emotional intelligence and health behaviour. This cross-sectional study included 1214 students (597 males and 617 females). Data were collected using the Schutte Self-Report Inventory and the Health Behaviour Checklist. Stepwise multiple regression analysis was executed with the components of health behaviour as the dependent variables to examine the predictive value of the emotional intelligence indicators as the independent variables. Gender predicted all categories of health behaviours. Only one indicator of emotional intelligence, appraisal, predicted the Accident Control and Traffic Risk Taking categories. The emotional intelligence indicator of social skills emerged only as a predictor of Wellness Maintenance and Enhancement in university students. Gender moderates the relationship between all emotional intelligence indicators and health behaviour components except the relationship between Appraisal and Substance Risk Taking and the relationship between Utilization and traffic risk taking.

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Posted in Emotional intelligence, Health | Tagged ,