Journal of Nonverbal Behavior

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 3–29 | Cite as

The Courtship Dance: Patterns of Nonverbal Synchronization in Opposite-Sex Encounters

  • Karl Grammer
  • Kirsten B. Kruck
  • Magnus S. Magnusson


This study examines the existence of behavioral correlates of synchronization on different levels of analysis and methods. We were unable to demonstrate a relation between synchronization defined in terms of movement echo or position mirroring and subjective experience of pleasure and interest in opposite-sex encounters. Significant results were found for a phenomenon we describe as hierarchically patterned synchronization. These patterns were identified with the help of a newly developed search algorithm. If a female is interested in a male, highly complex patterns of behavior with a constant time structure emerge. The patterns are pair-specific and independent from behavioral content. This rhythmic structure of interactions is discussed in functional terms of human courtship.


Constant Time Social Psychology Search Algorithm Complex Pattern Subjective Experience 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bakan, D. (1966). The duality of human existence. Chicago: Rand McNally.Google Scholar
  2. Barash, D. P. (1977). Sociobiology and behaviour. New York: Elsevier North-Holland Inc.Google Scholar
  3. Baron, R. M., & Boudreau, L. A. (1987). An ecological perspective on integrating personality and social psychology. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53, 1222–1228.Google Scholar
  4. Baylis, J. R. (1975). A quantitative, comparative study of courtship in two sympatric species of the genus Cichlasoma (Teleostei, Cichlidae). Ph.D. Thesis, University of California at Berkeley.Google Scholar
  5. Bernieri, F. J. (1988). Coordinated movement and rapport in teacher-student interactions. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 12, 120–138.Google Scholar
  6. Bernieri, F. J., Davis, J. M., Rosenthal, R., & Knee, C. R. (1994). Interactional synchrony and rapport: Measuring synchrony in displays devoid of sound and facial affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 20, 303–311.Google Scholar
  7. Bernieri, F., Reznick, J. S., & Rosenthal, R. (1988). Synchrony, pseudosynchrony, and dissynchrony: Measuring the entrainment process in mother-infant interactions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 243–253.Google Scholar
  8. Bernieri, F., & Rosenthal, R. (1991). Interpersonal coordination: Behavior matching and interactional synchrony. In R. S. Feldman & B. Rimé (Eds.), Fundamentals of nonverbal behavior (pp. 401–431). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Bishop, Y. M. M., Fienberg, S. E., & Holland, P. W. (1975). Discrete multivariate analysis: Theory and practice. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  10. Cappella, J. N. (1981). Mutual influence in expressive behavior: Adult-adult and infant-adult dyadic interaction. Psychological Bulletin, 89, 101–132.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Cappella, J. N. (1997). Behavioral and judged coordination in adult informal social interactions: Vocal and kinesic indicators. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 119–131.Google Scholar
  12. Condon, W. S. (1970). Method of micro-analysis of sound films of behavior. Behavior Research Methods and Instrumentation, 2, 51–54.Google Scholar
  13. Dabbs, J. M. (1969). Similarity of gestures and interpersonal influence. Proceedings, 77th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, 4, 337–338.Google Scholar
  14. Dawkins, R., & Krebs, J. R. (1981). Animal signals: Information or manipulation? In J. R. Krebs & N. B. Davies (Eds.), An introduction to behavioural ecology. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  15. DePaulo, B. M. (1992). Nonverbal behavior and self-presentation. Psychological Bulletin, 111, 203–243.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Drake, A. W. (1967). Fundamentals of applied probability theory. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  17. Ekman, P., & Friesen, W. V. (1969). The repertoire of nonverbal behavior: Categories, origins, usage, and coding. Semiotica, 1, 49–67.Google Scholar
  18. Fagen, R. M., & Young, D. Y. (1978). Temporal patterns of behavior: Durations, intervals, latencies, and sequences. In P. W. Colgan (Ed.), Quantitative ethology (pp. 79–114). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  19. Givens, D. B. (1978). The non-verbal basis of attraction: Flirtation, courtship, and seduction. Psychiatry, 41, 346–351.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Goffman, E. (1976). Gender advertisements. London: McMillan.Google Scholar
  21. Grammer, K. (1989). Human courtship: Biological bases and cognitive processing. In A. Rasa, C. Vogel, & E. Voland (Eds.), The sociobiology of sexual and reproductive strategies (pp. 147–169). London: Chapman and Hall.Google Scholar
  22. Grammer, K. (1990). Strangers meet: Laughter and non-verbal signs of interest in opposite-sex encounters. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 14, 209–236.Google Scholar
  23. Grammer, K., & Eibl-Eibesfeldt, I. (1989). The ritualisation of laughter. In W. A. Koch, (Ed.), Natürlichkeit der Sprache und Kultur (pp. 192–214). Bochumer Beiträge zur Semiotik 18. Bochum: Brockmeyer.Google Scholar
  24. Grammer, K., Fieder, M., & Filova, V. (1996). The communication paradox and a possible solution: Towards a radical empiricism. In A. Schmidt, K. Atzwanger, K. Schaefer, & K. Grammer (Eds.), Advances in human ethology, (pp. 91–120). London: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  25. Grammer, K., & Kruck, K. (1996). Female control and female choice. Manuscript submitted.Google Scholar
  26. Kendon, A. (1970). Movement coordination in social interaction: Some examples considered. Acta Psychologica, 32, 1–25.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Kendon, A., Harris, R. M., & Key, M. R. (Eds.). (1975). Organization of behavior in face-to-face interactions. Mouton: The Hague.Google Scholar
  28. LaFrance, M. (1979). Non-verbal synchrony and rapport: Analysis by the cross-lag panel technique. Social Psychology Quarterly, 42, 66–70.Google Scholar
  29. LaFrance, M. (1982). Posture mirroring and rapport. In M. Davis (Ed.), Interaction rhythms: Periodicity in communicative behavior (pp. 279–299). New York: Human Sciences Press.Google Scholar
  30. LaFrance, M., & Broadbent, M. (1976). Group rapport: Posture sharing as a nonverbal indicator. Group & Organisation Studies, 1, 328–333.Google Scholar
  31. LaFrance, M., & Ickes, W. (1981). Posture mirroring and interactional involvement: Sex and sex typing effects. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 5, 139–154.Google Scholar
  32. Lyon, M., Lyon, N., & Magnusson, M. S. (1994). The importance of temporal structure in analyzing schizophrenic behaviour: some theoretical and diagnostic implications. Schizophrenia Research, 13, 45–56.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Magnusson, M. S. (1983). THEME and SYNDROME: Two programs for behaviour research. Symposium in Applied Statistics, H. C. Oersteds Institut, University of Copenhagen, January, published in the proceedings.Google Scholar
  34. Magnusson, M. S. (1988). Le temps et les patterns syntaxiques du comportement humain: modele, methode et le programme THEME. In: Revue des Conditions de Travail. Les actes du Premier Colloque National d'Ergonomie Scolaire. Université de Lille. 19–20 mars 1987, 284–314. Publ. Octares, Marseille.Google Scholar
  35. Magnusson, M. S. (1989). Structures syntaxiques et rythmes comportementaux: sur la détection de rythmes cachés. Siences et Techniques de l'Animal du Laboratoire, 14, 143–147.Google Scholar
  36. Magnusson, M. S. (1993). THEME USER'S MANUAL: With notes on theory, model and pattern detection method. University of Iceland, The Central Administration, v. Sudurgata, IS-101 Reykjavik, Iceland. Can be ordered from: Human Behaviour Laboratory, University of lceland. By Fax (354) 1 694585 or Email: Scholar
  37. Magnusson, M. S. (1996). Hidden real-time patterns in intra-and inter-individual behavior: Description and detection. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 12, 112–123.Google Scholar
  38. McDowall, J. J. (1978). Interactional synchrony: A reappraisal. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36, 963–975.Google Scholar
  39. McGrew, W. C. (1972). An ethological study of children's behaviour. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  40. Mehrabian, A. (1972). Nonverbal communication. Chicago: Aldine-Atherton.Google Scholar
  41. Moore, M.M. (1985). Nonverbal courtship patterns in women: Context and consequences. Ethology and Sociobiology, 6, 237–247.Google Scholar
  42. Newtson, D. (1994). The perception of the coupling of behavior waves. In R. R. Vallacher & A. Nowak (Eds.), Dynamical systems in psychology (pp. 139–167). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  43. Perper, T. (1985). Sex signals: The biology of love. Philadelphia: ISI Press.Google Scholar
  44. Pitcairn, T., & Schleidt, M. (1976). Dance and decision: An analysis of courtship dance of the Medlpa of New Guinea. Behaviour, 57, 347–353.Google Scholar
  45. Rosenfeld, H. M. (1981). Whither interactional synchrony? In K. Bloom (Ed.), Prospective issues in infancy research (pp. 71–97). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  46. Rutter, D. R., & Stephenson, G. M. (1977). The role of visual communication in synchronizing conversation. European Journal of Social Psychology, 7, 29–37.Google Scholar
  47. Scheflen, A. E. (1965). Quasi-courtship behavior in psychotherapy. Psychiatry, 28, 245–257.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Slater, P. J. B. (1973). Describing sequences of behavior. In P. P. G. Bateson & P. H. Klopfer (Eds.), Perspectives in ethology (Vol. 1) (pp. 131–153). New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  49. Tooke, W., & Camire, L. (1991). Patterns of deception in intersexual and intrasexual mating strategies. Ethology and Sociobiology, 12, 345–345.Google Scholar
  50. Trivers, R. L. (1972). Parental investment and sexual selection. In B. Campbell (Ed.), Sexual selection and the descent of men 1871–1971 (pp. 136–179). Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
  51. Weitz, S. 1976. Sex differences in nonverbal communication. Sex Roles, 2, 175–184.Google Scholar
  52. Wylie, L. (1985). Language learning and communication. The French Review, 53, 777–785.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karl Grammer
    • 1
  • Kirsten B. Kruck
  • Magnus S. Magnusson
  1. 1.Ludwig-Boltzmann-Institute for Urban EthologyViennaAustria

Personalised recommendations