Ever noticed how your footsteps sync up when you walk side-by-side with someone? Even if that person is a total stranger?
Yup, it’s kinda strange and most of the time, it happens without us even realising. But if this new study is anything to go by, the whole mirroring each other thing might actually be worth consciously putting into practice – at least as far as our relationships are concerned.
A team of Israeli scientists conducted a series of four experiments, looking at how people interacted while working out on stationary bikes. In the first two, the participants (who were unknown to each other) were asked to recount a neutral or positive event (like a job promotion) while they each took turns listening.
Afterwards, the researchers measured their synchronicity by looking at the speeds they pedalled and how they rated their partner’s empathy and responsiveness. They found that moving in sync significantly increased their rapport and connectedness.
The second two experiments involved romantic couples. In one, they listened to the sound of footsteps (both coordinated and uncoordinated) whilst simultaneously imagining themselves walking next to their loved one. In the other, they breathed in and out at the same time as their S.O and then described a sexual fantasy. After both experiments, they rated how intimate they felt they were with their partner.
Curiously, they found that being in sync directly related to feelings of closeness and greater sexual desire. The reason for this, experts say, is two-fold:
“Not only can synchrony affect the development of closeness between strangers, but it may also boost levels of intimacy in ongoing relationships,” one of the study’s co-authors, Girut E. Birnbaum, explained.
“Within this context, synchrony can signify unity between partners, thereby generating an atmosphere ripe for reciprocal exchanges of intimacy that may further intensify the emotional bond between them. Even nonverbal displays of synchrony during ordinary activities in everyday lives can deepen the experience of closeness and sexual desire between partners.”