The Sense of Connection: 9 June 2016


Interdisciplinary perspectives on human interaction

June 9, 2016
University of Helsinki

Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (Fabianinkatu 24, ground floor, room 136)

09:00-09:15 Opening words

09:15-10:15 Vasudevi Reddy (University of Portsmouth)
“Engagement, the Person and Development”

10:15-11:15 Jaakko Seikkula (University of Jyväskylä)
“Dynamic dialogical synchronization: Finding the human mind in embodied relationships”

11:15-12:30 Lunch

12:30-13:30 Sebastian Wallot (Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics)
“Connected, but not synchronized: Multiple patterns of interpersonal coordination can be associated with positive collective experiences“

13:30-14:30 Melisa Stevanovic (University of Helsinki)
“Patterns of interactional behaviour: Overt characteristics and experiential consequences”

14:30-15:30 Sara Heinämaa (University of Jyväskylä)
“Self-experience and empathy: On the phenomenological conditions of bodily synchrony”

15:30-16:00 Coffee

16:00-17:00 Heidi Fast (Aalto University of Arts and Design)
“Vocal coattunement in artistic research: Shared vocality attuning embodied interaction”

17:00-18:00 Joona Taipale (University of Jyväskylä / Kone Foundation)
“Affect regulation and self/other differentiation”

In everyday language, we usually talk of a sense of connection when people not only interact with one another, but find their experiential perspectives, insights, or worries either coinciding or at least becoming understood or recognized by one another. Likewise we speak of feelings of “disconnection” when people are not understood by one another, when their emotions and moods are not attuned to or sympathized with, but also when people do not share each other’s religious, political, or ideological world-views. The general psychological insight has been documented by many recent studies: it clearly matters to us whether or not social interaction comes with a sense of connection, and depending on the presence of the latter, interaction is bound to be qualitatively different. To be sure, we do not always seek for a sense of connection – in our daily urban environment we also frequently make efforts in avoiding it. This, however, is yet another proof of the central facilitating and opening role of the sense of connection in social interaction – it is just that we do not always want that.

However, the concept of “connection” is all but clear: it comes in many forms, levels, and registers. On the one hand, interpersonal connection may refer to an experience of cognitive, ideological, or emotional attunement, alignment, or coincidence – to an experience of there being, instead of just two or more individuals, a “we”. On the other hand, the interpersonal connectedness may also refer to non-experiential issues. Recent empirical studies have shown that, in particular circumstances, interpersonal encounters give rise to multi-faceted “synchronization” in the empirically observable physiological and neurological processes of the participants: the perceivable gestures, movements, and prosody of the interacting persons tend to become rhythmically aligned, the responses of the participants’ autonomic nervous systems reportedly tend toward a common pattern, to say nothing of the activation of the participants’ mirror resonance systems.

In short, interpersonal connection proceeds both in experiential and non-experiential registers, and it varies both as for its content and as for its form. The aim of the workshop is to examine and elaborate the structure and meaning of interpersonal connection, its development and emergence, and its consequences in social interaction. These issues will be discussed from various perspectives, paying heed to the following questions in particular:

(1) How should we interpret the experience of personal connection?
(2) What happens to the self/other distinction in such experiences?
(3) How is the reported empirical-bodily synchronization related to the experience of interpersonal connection?
(4) What are the conditions and presuppositions for bodily synchronization and the sense of connection?
(5) What kind of effects and consequences do bodily synchronization and the sense of connection have for the ongoing and developing interaction?


The conference is free and open to all. Registration beforehand is not needed. Welcome!

The event is sponsored by the Subjectivity, Historicity, Communality network and The Federation for Finnish Learned Societies.