Indexed on: 25 May '07Published on: 25 May '07Published in: AI & SOCIETY
What constitutes our human capacity to engage and be in the same frame of mind as another human? How do we come to share a sense of what ‘looks good’ and what ‘makes sense’? How do we handle differences and come to coexist with them? How do we come to feel that we understand what someone else is experiencing? How are we able to walk in silence with someone familiar and be sharing a peaceful space? All of these aspects are part of human ‘interaction’. In designing interactive technologies designers have endeavoured to explicate, analyse and simulate, our capacity for social adaptation. Their motivations are mixed and include the desires to improve efficiency, improve consumption, to connect people, to make it easier for people to work together, to improve education and learning. In these endeavours to explicate, analyse and simulate, there is a fundamental human capacity that is beyond technology and that facilitates these aspects of being, feeling and thinking with others. That capacity, we suggest, is human entrainment. This is our ability to coordinate the timing of our behaviours and rhythmically synchronise our attentional resources. Expressed within the movements of our bodies and voices, it has a quality that is akin to music. In this paper, disparate domains of research such as pragmatics, social psychology, behaviourism, cognitive science, computational linguistics, gesture, are brought together, and considered in light of the developments in interactive technology, in order to shape a conceptual framework for understanding entrainment in everyday human interaction.