The Amsterdam Gesture Center is pleased to announce a mini-symposium:

Interpersonal coordination

Thursday, 13 February 2014, 15:30-17:30

at the Vrije Universiteit/VU main building, room 12A-44

featuring two guest speakers from the Language, Interaction and Phenomenology Lab of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (Santiago), who are currently visiting scholars in Germany:

Prof. Dr. Carlos Cornejo:

“Interpersonal coordination: From imitation to interaction”

PhD candidate Himmbler Olivares:

“The expressive dimension of interpersonal coordination: The case of remembering”

The event is open to the public. Details can be found in the abstracts and biosketches below. If anyone would like to go to dinner with the speakers after the talks or have lunch with them earlier in the afternoon (at your own expense), please let Alan Cienki know (a.cienki AT


Interpersonal coordination: From imitation to interaction

Carlos Cornejo

It is a well-documented fact that human beings display behavioral and gestural coordination during their interactions. The evidence on this claim is robust, covering ethnographical observation to neuroscientific evidence. In most of these approaches, interpersonal coordination is understood as imitation. However, by seeing coordination as imitation, attention is displaced from interaction itself – a phenomenon that by definition can only occur between at least two agents – to the mimicry abilities of one of them. In this study we registered the corporal movements of 15 dyads using an optical motion capture system (18 infrared cameras), with 15 markers attached to each person. This setting allowed for natural conversation and for tracking both participants’ entire bodies. Using average cross-correlation curves to aggregate coordinated motion at several time delays, we found the coordination of participants’ motion energy at three moments, which were coincident with imitation, zero-lag coordination, and reverse coordination. After these results, imitation seems to be a subset of the possible options for interpersonal coordination. Furthermore, the observed immediacy of the zero-lag coordination excludes the imitative reaction as a possible explanation. As a whole, these results suggest that individuals make permanent, unconscious efforts to configure a single coupled system during a natural interaction. Consequently, it seems more realistic to consider interpersonal coordination as an online process during the flow of a conversation, rather than as action-reaction turn-taking.

Carlos Cornejo is Professor at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Currently he is visiting professor at the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg (research topic: history of psychology). His research interests include theoretical and empirical aspects of meaning construction, metaphor, and human interaction. He is director of the Language, Interaction and Phenomenology Lab (LIF) at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Email: cca AT


The expressive dimension of interpersonal coordination: The case of remembering

Himmbler Olivares

Current research demonstrates, theoretically and empirically, an interesting relationship between dyadic interpersonal coordination during conversation and subsequent personal memories about conversation in each partner (Miles, Nind, Henderson & Macrae, 2009; Tollefsen, Dale & Paxton, 2013). However, the unfolding of dyadic interpersonal coordination and its potential relations with the unfolding of personal remembering remains unclear in the literature. In this study, we investigate qualitatively the relationship between expressive aspects of interpersonal coordination and personal remembering using video-data. Two dyads of persons separately answered a protocol that includes questions about studies, professional interest and hobbies, and holidays, among other things. The protocol also included a question about the earthquake that occurred in Chile on 2010. Each interaction was recorded with video-cameras. For analysis, following the distinction between expressive and representational functions of language (Bühler, 1934/2011), we distinguish two kinds of interpersonal coordination. On the one hand, there are coordinations where expressive-affective aspects are salient, mainly an emotion. But also there is a coordination mostly based on representational aspects, for example, when coordination arises from an iconic gesture. Some examples on both categories will be presented.

In a second phase of study, we explore whether interpersonal coordination phenomena lead the remembering experience during the interaction. For this purpose, we interviewed the four participants of this study separately (and immediately) after the interaction, allowing that participants freely remember the experience related for his/her counterpart. Starting from Henri Bergson’s ideas concerning the relation between past and immediate experience (Bergson, 1913/2001, 1912/1988), we distinguish two main organization forms of remembering during the immediate experience: the subjective organization, in which remembering is guided by expressive-affective aspects; and theobjective organization of remembering, in which immediate experience is guided by reflective processes, which became visible, for example, through expressions of effort or enumerations of events.

The exploration of data shows that the subjective organization of experience during remembering is directly linked to affective-expressive coordination as deployed during the interaction. However, data does not show a direct link between objective organization of experience and representational coordination, because the objective organization of experience during remembering usually appears fused with subjective aspects. We discuss these results with focus on the tension that exists between the expressive and representational aspects of language in the stream of experience.

Himmbler Olivares is a Doctoral Student at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and the Europa-Universität Viadrina in Germany. His research interests are centered on history of psychology, with special emphasis on German holistic psychology and its relationship with the Romantic ideas of the 19th century. His doctoral dissertation focuses on the microgenesis of body movements in communicative interaction and memory. He works at the Language, Interaction and Phenomenology Lab (LiF) in the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Address: Escuela de Psicología, Vicuña Mackenna 4860, 782-0436 Santiago, Chile. Email: hgolivar AT