Synchrony and Emotion

In: Timing & Time Perception
Sylvie Droit-Volet Clermont Université, Université Blaise Pascal, Laboratoire de Psychologie Sociale et Cognitive, UMR 6024 – CNRS, 34 avenue Carnot, 63037 Clermont-Ferrand Cedex, France

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Joëlle Provasi CHart, EPHE, Paris, France

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To anticipate other people’s behavioral intentions and respond to them at the right moment is crucial for efficient social interaction. In the present study, we thus investigated how adults synchronize with emotional facial expressions. The participants had to synchronize their taps with a rhythmical sequence of faces and then continue tapping at the same rhythm without faces. Three inter-stimulus intervals (500, 700, and 900 ms) and six different facial expressions (disgust, neutrality, sadness, joy, anger, and fear) were tested. In the synchronization phase, no difference was observed between the different facial expressions, suggesting that the participants tap in synchrony with external rhythms in the presence of stimuli whatever their emotional characteristics. However, in the continuation phase, an emotion effect emerged, with the individual rhythms being faster for the facial expressions of fear and, to a lesser extent, anger than for the other facial expressions. The motor rhythms were also longer and more variable for the disgusted faces. These findings suggest that the internal clock mechanism underlying the timing of rhythms is accelerated in response to the high-arousal emotions of fear and anger.

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