Multiscale movement coordination dynamics in collaborative team problem solving

Travis Wiltshire, Sune Vork Steffensen, Stephen M. Fiore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


During collaborative problem solving (CPS), coordination occurs at different spatial and temporal scales. This multiscale coordination should play a functional role in facilitating effective collaboration. To evaluate this, we conducted a study of computer-based CPS with 42 dyadic teams. We used cross-wavelet coherence to examine movement coordination, extracted from videos, at several scales, and tested whether the observed coordination was greater than expected due to chance and due to task demands. We found that coordination at scales less than 2s was greater than chance and at most scales (except 16s, 1m, and 2m), was greater than expected due to task demands. Lastly, we observed that coherence at .25s and 1s scales was predictive of performance. However, when including relative phase, our results suggest that higher in-phase movement coordination at the 1s scale was the strongest predictor of CPS performance. Further, we used growth curve modeling to examine how movement coordination changes across the duration of the task and whether this is moderated by CPS performance. We found that coordination over the duration of the CPS task is quadratic (a U shape) and that better performing teams have higher coordination with a shallower curve. We discuss these findings and their relevance to understanding how low-level movement coordination facilitates CPS.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-151
JournalApplied Ergonomics
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Coordination
  • Collaboration
  • Problem solving
  • team performance
  • dynamical systems


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