Interpersonal movement coordination using a peg board task


Despite a general understanding of individual goal directed action, few researchers have investigated cooperative movement tasks.  Previous work (e.g., Gonzalez et al., 2011) demonstrates that participants help a confederate achieve an action goal by turning an object around for the confederate (e.g., handle of hammer faces the confederate) when performing a cooperative task (e.g., driving a nail into a board). The present study used a peg board; 5 rows by 5 columns, 93.2cm wide by 122.0cm long, that separated the confederate and the participant, with matching end positions labeled A, B, C, D, E on either side.  The experiment consisted of a pre-test block, experimental block, and post-test block.  During the pre-test, the participant was instructed to work with the confederate to move a peg from a start location to an end location. In the experimental block, participants were randomly assigned to a “helpful” or “not helpful” group, where the confederate placed the peg closest to (helpful), or furthest away from (not helpful), the participant. It was hypothesized that participants in the “helpful” group would move the peg closer to the confederate during the post-test and thereby decrease the average distance the confederate traveled to retrieve the peg, whereas in the “not helpful” group the average distance traveled to retrieve the peg would increase. The post-test was performed identical to the pre-test. Preliminary analyses showed a an interaction between group and pre-post test (p<.05) where there was a significant decrease in average distance travelled by the confederate in the “helpful” group (35.45cm to 30.1cm) from pre- to post-test(p=.022). Furthermore, a trend towards an increase in distance traveled (29.78cm to 33.65cm) in the “not helpful” group (p=.076).   These findings which support our predictions suggest that individuals will change their movement performance based on perceived behaviour of another person. 

Acknowledgments: This work has been funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Undergraduate Student Research Award.