New publication in Cognitive Science: Emergent Shared Intentions Support Coordination During Collective Musical Improvisations

January 21, 2021

Goupil, L., Wolf, T., Saint‐Germier, P., Aucouturier, J. J., & Canonne, C. (2021). Emergent Shared Intentions Support Coordination During Collective Musical Improvisations. Cognitive Science45(1), e12932.

Human interactions are often improvised rather than scripted, which suggests that efficient coordination can emerge even when collective plans are largely underspecified. It is an open question whether coordination in these instances relies purely on perception-action couplings between interactive partners or whether shared intentions might emerge to support the coordination. To address this question we tested collective free improvisation, a form of highly unplanned creative musical practice. In four experiments, we show that shared intentions spontaneously emerge during collective musical improvisations, and that they foster coordination on multiple levels, over and beyond the mere influence of shared information. We also show that musicians deploy communicative strategies to manifest and propagate their intentions within the group, and that this predicts better coordination. Overall, our results suggest that improvised and scripted joint actions are more continuous with one another than it first seems, and that they differ merely in the extent to which they rely on emergent or planned coordination mechanisms. 


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