When two people work together, there are many interpersonal factors that can influence the extent to which they are able to coordinate their actions to perform well. In one line of work, we are testing how the stress experienced by one person prior to or during the interaction can potentially "bleed over" to the interaction partner to affect how well both people perform. We are examining questions such as: What are the behaviors that people under stress engage in when with others, and how do these behaviors affect their interaction partners? What determines whether people under stress perform better or worse when working with others? We are testing these questions in a number of contexts, including interactions between tutors and students, high and low power people working together, and two people of different racial and religious backgrounds.
By bridging the fields of interpersonal perception and behavioral coordination, we are developing a line of research on improving dyad and group-level performance in contexts that require individuals to coordinate their behaviors. We are currently developing methods of improving dyadic and group-level outcomes in racially heterogeneous dyads and teams, as well as those in which team members differ in how much status and power they have. We are examining these processes in experimental one-time-only interactions, as well as within real teams over the course of several months.
Researchers have long been interested in the study of shared physiological experiences between two or more people. In certain contexts, physiological linkage—the extent to which one person's physiology predicts another's at a following time point—can indicate that two people are psychologically attuned to one another or sharing similar psychological experiences. We are currently investigating the interpersonal processes that underlie linkage and developing theoretical frameworks for making psychological inferences from physiological linkage. We are also examining the outcomes of sharing a physiological experience with another person—for example, interpersonal influence, performance, and social regulation of emotion.