Synchrony within Triads using Virtual Reality

Miller M.R., Sonalkar N, Mabogunje A, Leifer L, Bailenson J.N. (2021), “Synchrony within Triads using Virtual Reality,” Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction, Volume 5, Issue CSCW2, Article No.: 400, pp 1–27. doi: 10.1145/3479544


Synchrony, the natural time-dependence of behavior in human interaction, is a pervasive feature of communication. However, most studies of synchrony have focused on dyadic interaction. In the current work, we explore synchrony in three-person teams using immersive virtual reality. Participants spent about two hours collaborating on four separate design tasks. The tracking data from the VR system allowed precise measurement of head and hand movements, facilitating calculation of synchrony. Results replicated previous work that found nonverbal synchrony in dyads in immersive VR. Moreover, we manipulated the context of the task environment, an informal garage or a traditional conference room. The environment for the task influenced synchrony, with higher levels occurring in the conference room than the garage. We also explored different methods of extending synchrony from dyads to triads, and explore the relationship of synchrony to turn taking and gaze. This paper provides theoretical insights about nonverbal synchrony and how design work functions in triads and provides suggestions for designers of VR to support good collaboration.