What makes people ‘click’ with each other? What does it mean to have ‘merged minds’ with a close partner or a coworker?

My central line of research investigates the experience of exchanging knowing glances, finishing each other’s sentences, and thinking in synchrony. Specifically, I examine the experience of Generalized Shared Reality (SR-G): the perception of sharing inner states (e.g., thoughts, feelings, beliefs) with an interaction partner about the world.

In a recent paper, I developed a self-report measure of SR-G in interpersonal relationships for use in a given situation (e.g. During our interaction, we thought of things at the exact same time) and across situations in a close relationship (e.g. We frequently think of things at the exact same time), as well as a coding scheme to measure the behavioral signatures of SR-G (e.g., finishing each other’s ideas).

My work has shown that SR-G contributes to the experience of clicking and closeness between strangers, and the experience of having “merged minds” between romantic partners. Further, in the face of experimental threat to their sense of SR-G, couples engage in motivated, dyadic behaviors to reaffirm their sense of experiencing the world in the same way.

SR-G also shapes how people make sense of the world and co-construct the “truth”. For example, I’ve found that SR-G predicts feeling certain of one’s perceptions and trusting one’s interaction partner as a source of truth. I’ve also found that SR-G can enhance perceived realness.

You can read a short conceptual piece on these ideas here. This work was recently covered by the BBC.

In my current work, I examine the role of SR-G in improving important organizational outcomes, like organizational commitment, work meaningfulness, and job performance. I also investigate the role of SR-G in provoking neural and behavioral synchrony in interpersonal interactions.