Conversational Flow Promotes Solidarity

Koudenburg, N., Postmes, T. & Gordijn, E. H., 12-Nov-2013, In : PLoS ONE. 8, 11, 6 p., e78363.

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Social interaction is fundamental to the development of various aspects of "we-ness''. Previous research has focused on the role the content of interaction plays in establishing feelings of unity, belongingness and shared reality (a cluster of variables referred to as solidarity here). The present paper is less concerned with content, but focuses on the form of social interaction. We propose that the degree to which conversations flow smoothly or not is, of itself, a cue to solidarity. We test this hypothesis in samples of unacquainted and acquainted dyads who communicate via headsets. Conversational flow is disrupted by introducing a delay in the auditory feedback (vs. no delay). Results of three studies show that smoothly coordinated conversations (compared with disrupted conversations and a control condition) increase feelings of belonging and perceptions of group entitativity, independently of conversation content. These effects are driven by the subjective experience of conversational flow. Our data suggest that this process occurs largely beyond individuals' control. We conclude that the form of social interaction is a powerful cue for inferring group solidarity. Implications for the impact of modern communication technology on developing a shared social identity are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere78363
Number of pages6
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 12-Nov-2013


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