From group hunting and music-dance to children's games and team sports, humans move, harmonize and strive together toward common goals. Our research explores how different forms of collective activity build and benefit from cooperative social bonds among individuals.
Why do people feel closer and cooperate more with one another when they align or coordinate their actions? How does interdependence in joint physical activity create feelings of group bonding? How is "team click" engendered through collective movement? How does social support influence physical performance?
Humans are social creatures - we cannot survive without the support of other individuals.
Social affiliation is therefore considered a basic human motive and is at the heart of our sociality and our health. We derive intrinsic pleasure from connecting, coordinating and cooperating together.
Powerful social-psychological rewards motivate much of our behaviour and drive culture. Across cultures, everyday life is marked by interpersonal activities that foster social connection, closeness, cooperation and support among co-actors.
From song to sport, the power to feel - and to feel together - is obvious, but often neglected in evolutionary accounts of culture.
Focusing on the social affective roots of our distinctive behaviours offers an important perspective on the transmission and evolution of culture, augmenting traditional accounts that emphasize cognitive abilities to acquire, store and manipulate information.
Connections among physical activity, psychology and sociality run deep in our physiology and evolution. If we can better understand the pathways involved, perhaps they can be leveraged to improve wellbeing, health and life outcomes across diverse populations.