Catherine MacPherson

Catherine is a PhD candidate in Psychology at the University of Aberdeen, supervised by Dr Lynden Miles and Dr Dannette Marie. She started her doctoral research in September 2017.

Project Title: Dynamics of social interaction: Investigating the impact of individual psychological characteristics on interpersonal coordination

My PhD project seeks to examine the influence of mental health status on interpersonal coordination. Coordinating with others is an integral part of our social world, allowing us to engage in a range of activities from ballroom dancing, to simply walking and talking. Coordination also appears to influence the degree to which we connect socially with others –empirical evidence suggests a bidirectional relationship between interpersonal coordination and a wide range of social outcomes, including rapport, liking and helping.

Within the literature on interpersonal coordination, however, it has been observed that some individuals coordinate to a much greater degree than others. For example, individuals suffering from a number of mental health disorders (e.g. social anxiety disorder, autism spectrum disorder) have been shown to present with deficits in the emergence of interpersonal coordination. It is currently unclear, however, whether the symptoms associated with these disorders may influence interpersonal coordination within a non-clinical population. This is the question we are tackling in the current project.

In the first year of my PhD, we found results to suggest that normal variation in mental health does appear to influence the way in which we coordinate with others. Now, I am examining whether the actions of your interaction partner may change the way in which this influence manifests. For example, preliminary analyses suggest that gaze direction of an interaction partner change the coordination patterns present.

Awarded: Carnegie PhD Scholarship

Field: Psychology

University: University of Aberdeen

Latest News