Travelling groups stick together: How collective directional movement influences social cohesion

Stuart Wilson, Evangelia Bassiou, Aysel Denli, Lynsey Dolan, Matthew Watson

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We tested the hypothesis that the social act of moving through space with others – collective directional movement – is associated with greater levels of group cohesion compared to static activities. We asked participants to imagine participating in activities as part of a same-sex group and found that imagining going on a journey is associated with higher levels of expected cohesion compared to imagining attending a meeting (Study 1) or an event (Study 2). Study 3 replicates the main effect using different manipulations and finds that it persists regardless of whether the imagined group were friends or strangers. Two further studies employed real-world tasks and show that the effect is not a consequence of goal-ascription (Study 4) or synchrony/exertion (Study 5).We argue that the link between this activity and cohesion is a consequence of its ubiquity in social ecologies and the interdependence and shared common fate of those engaged in it.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalEvolutionary Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2018


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