Behavioral Dynamics of Joint Action and Social Coordination:
Theory, Modeling and Implications

Michael J. Richardson
Center for Cognition, Action & Perception
University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

A fundamental feature of social behavior is face-to-face or co-present physical interaction. The success of such joint-action (including joint-musical performance), whether measured in terms of social connection, goal achievement, or the ability of individuals to understand and predict the meaningful intentions and behaviors of others, is not only dependent on numerous neural-cognitive processes, but also on the physical and informational processes of perceptual-motor coordination. Understanding and modeling the dynamics of these coordination processes, including how they emerge and are maintained over time, as well as how differing stable states of coordination are activated, dissolved, and transformed is therefore imperative. Here, I will (1) review previous research aimed at uncovering the dynamics of the perceptual-motor coordination that emerges during a range of joint-action tasks, (2) discuss how developing a deeper understanding of how physical and informational task constraints and asymmetries in task constrains and goals shape the context by which the patterns of social movement coordination are self-organized, and (3) detail a dynamical modeling strategy for capturing both simple and complex forms of social coordination, including complementary joint-action. I will also consider the possibility that during the enactment of a shared intention or task goals, the behavioral dynamics of perceptual-motor coordination not only lawfully express the physical, informational, and neural-cognitive relations that underlie successful joint-action, but also operate to enslave the behavioral intentions, action strategies and cognitive processes of social situated co-acting individuals.