Critical diversity: Divided or united states of social coordination

Mengsen Zhang, J.A. Scott Kelso, Emmanuelle Tognoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)
44 Downloads (Pure)


Much of our knowledge of coordination comes from studies of simple, dyadic systems or systems containing large numbers of components. The huge gap ‘in between’ is seldom addressed, empirically or theoretically. We introduce a new paradigm to study the coordination dynamics of such intermediate-sized ensembles with the goal of identifying key mechanisms of interaction. Rhythmic coordination was studied in ensembles of eight people, with differences in movement frequency (‘diversity’) manipulated within the ensemble. Quantitative change in diversity led to qualitative changes in coordination, a critical value separating régimes of integration and segregation between groups. Metastable and multifrequency coordination between participants enabled communication across segregated groups within the ensemble, without destroying overall order. These novel findings reveal key factors underlying coordination in ensemble sizes previously considered too complicated or 'messy' for systematic study and supply future theoretical/computational models with new empirical checkpoints.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0193843
Number of pages19
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4
Early online date4 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished online - 4 Apr 2018


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