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Know how people avoid bumping into each other

New York, April 17 (IANS) Ever wondered how people avoid bumping into each other while doing coordinated tasks such as dancing or Kung Fu fighting together? New research reveals that people fall into a complementary pattern to avoid a collision.

“We have developed a dynamic model that captures the behavioural dynamics as well as provides a theoretical explanation of why certain behaviour emerges between people as they learn to avoid each other while performing certain tasks,” said lead researcher Michael Richardson, associate professor at the University of Cincinnati.

The study involved 12 pairs of participants simultaneously moving objects on a 50-inch computer screen from one location to another – without bumping their objects into each other – using a hand-held motion-tracking sensor to control their movements.

The virtual tasks included moving a dot on the computer screen from bottom left to top right for one participant and bottom right to top left for the partnering participant.

All 24 participants were college undergraduates and were right-handed. The pairs stood back to back while performing the tasks. They could not see each other, but they could see their partner’s virtual dot movement on the screen.

“This task was chosen because many joint actions involve the continuous production of repetitive movements over time,” the study said.

While no specific instructions were given to participants on how to coordinate their movements, the experiment found that nearly all of the pairs fell into the same stable pattern of coordination, with one participant adopting a more straight-line trajectory between the targets, and the partner falling into a more elliptical trajectory between the targets.

“Of particular significance, task success was dependent on the participants discovering this complementary task solution,” the study said.

The findings were detailed in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance.

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