Walking in sync makes enemies seem less scary

three men walking in step with each other

Men who walk in sync may begin to think of their enemies as weaker and smaller, a new study suggests.

Pavel P./FLICKR  (CC BY 2.0)

When men match each others’ steps, purported criminals seem less physically formidable, a new study shows. The results, published August 27 in Biology Letters, suggest that matched movements in men may foster fighting alliances, a behavior seen in apes and some dolphins and whales. The team did not test women’s responses to matched movements. 

Because synchronized behaviors — used in everything from athletics to police formation — seem to shape how people think about their enemies, the matched movements may pave the way for violence, the scientists suggest. 

Ashley Yeager is the associate news editor at Science News. She has worked at The Scientist, the Simons Foundation, Duke University and the W.M. Keck Observatory, and was the web producer for Science News from 2013 to 2015. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.

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