When coordinating with others, more is better: Study

Washington: A recent study suggests that when it comes to physical coordination, the saying, ‘more the merrier’ actually stands true. The study found out that physical coordination works out better with a large group.

As part of the study, the researchers used robotic interfaces to test coordination in groups of two, three and four partners, and found that performance was improving with every additional group member.

The researchers believe the findings can clarify how a group can of people work together, for example to move and maneuver a large table together. This may also lead to improving the outcomes of physical rehabilitation by training patients in groups.

The new study was published in the Journal of eLife.

“We were shocked by how well and fast partners learned to coordinate as a group through touch. Imagine trying to move a banquet table at a crowded wedding venue. With verbal communication, it’s immensely challenging to coordinate with others to ensure the table doesn’t bump against something, and the more people there are, the longer it takes to reach verbal consensus. With touch, coordination emerges in a matter of seconds, and the time taken to reach consensus is the same, irrespective of group size,” said Atsushi Takagi, lead author of the study.

“We expected that the performance would deteriorate with the noisy force of each additional group member. However the performance improved with each group member, as each individual connects to a virtual collective hand which is the average of all partners’ hands, so that the noise decreases with the number of partners,” Etienne Burdet, senior author of the study added.

The researchers found that the key to physical coordination was the ability to infer the group’s goal through touch. The same coordination mechanism was used in a previous study by Takagi and colleagues to design a “human-like” robot partner that coordinated with a human partner.