A lot of us march to the beat of our own drummer. But there are certain benefits to walking in synch. It can make you feel like you’re one of the gang. And it might make people who are not in your gang look less threatening. That’s according to a study in the journal Biology Letters. [Daniel M. T. Fessler and Colin Holbrook, Marching into battle: synchronized walking diminishes the conceptualized formidability of an antagonist in men]
Synchronized movement has long been known to cement alliances and to enhance cooperation. [Sound of marching and USMC drill instructor] But can it also change the way you see those outside your troop? To find out, researchers had participants pair off and walk together, either in synch or just at their natural pace. Afterwards, the volunteers were shown a mug shot of an angry male face and asked to estimate the criminal’s overall size.
Those subjects who kept pace with a colleague found the bad guy to be less formidable than did their out-of-synch peers. Marchers guessed the mug-shot man was an inch shorter and about 10 percent smaller and less muscular than did the subjects who simply strolled.
The findings suggest that physical coordination could boost your self confidence. On the down side, it might also lead you to underestimate an opponent—a miscalculation that could really get you off on the wrong foot.
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]