From infancy onwards, we align our movements to other people around us. Sometimes, we copy their actions (imitation) and sometimes we move in time to the same rhythm as them (synchronisation). In my research, I examine how different forms of movement alignment helps children forge social bonds.


My research with infants provided some of the first pieces of evidence that from as young as 12 months of age, infants choose social partners who have previously synchronised movements with them. We also showed that in early childhood, synchronisation promotes social bonding and helping behaviour among peers.


My current work with Stefanie Hoehl and Lauren Marsh is examining the links between imitation, over-imitation and social affiliation.

In other ongoing work with Katie Slocombe and Daniel Haun, I am investigating mother-infant engagement and infants’ emotion regulation in the first 2 years of life and across cultures.


Emma Cohen (University of Oxford)

Merle Fairhurst (Bundeswehr University Munich)

Christine Fawcett (Uppsala University)
Daniel Haun (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology)

Stefanie Hoehl (University of Vienna)

Ellen Howard (University of Nottingham)
Lauren Marsh (University of Nottingham)

Trinh Nguyen (University of Vienna)
Katie Slocombe (University of York)

Roman Stengelin (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology)

Key Publications