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Sharing the Now in the Social Present: Duration of Nonverbal Synchrony Is Linked With Personality

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Journal of Personality

Published online on


Objective The social present is a novel descriptor of dyadic nowness and social sharing, extending research on individual nowness (James's [1890] specious present) to the interpersonal and intersubjective domain. We wished to connect this descriptor to personality attributes. Method We define the social present by the duration of significant nonverbal synchrony, based on the phenomenon of movement synchrony that generally emerges in social interactions. It is thus an implicit and objective measure that can be implemented by automated video analyses. In this study, 168 healthy participants were invited to verbal conversations in same‐sex dyads. We analyzed the associations of the social present with personality attributes and interaction types (competition, cooperation, fun task). Results The average duration of the social present was 6.0 seconds, highest in competitive interactions and in male‐male dyads. People with higher Openness to Experience, higher avoidant attachment, and lower narcissistic interpersonal styles showed extended social present in their interactions. Conclusions The concept of the social present extends personality attributes to the interpersonal domain and to intersubjectivity. The social present may be computed based on movement synchrony but also prosodic or physiological synchronies. We foresee implications for health‐related interactions such as psychotherapy, where therapeutic presence is an essential property of alliance.