Don’t Trust People Who Can’t Dance
Bad news for anyone who’s signature dance move is “white-man’s overbite”: The inability to synchronize your body to a beat is a symptom of a much bigger issue — you might be dead inside.
It sounds harsh and hyperbolic, but researchers from Dartmouth College found that this all comes down to the eyes — mainly the pupils — and how they dilate in response to music as well as to other people. When you’re listening attentively to another human being, your pupils dilate and synchronize. Quite literally, you’re getting a little googly-eyed over human connection. So if you’re bad at “entraining” — or keeping up with a beat — you’re probably bad at connecting in a conversation, too.
“We were quite surprised to find that how well your pupils dilate and constrict to something as simple as a rhythmic beat would predict how well you attend in the same way as another person,” study co-author Sophie Wohltjen explained in a press release. “What this suggests is that there may be some sort of underlying mechanism that can unite a lot of the different ways that we talk about synchrony.”
Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Elaine Benes’ pupils were tiny when she was dancing on Seinfeld, but it suggests that the better you are at syncing up with a beat, the better you are at syncing up with other people.
Or as co-author Thalia Wheatley put it, “Identifying that these two forms of synchrony — simple, metronomic entrainment and complex shared attention — are linked is really interesting, as it opens up all sorts of larger questions about why this tendency to synchronize varies between people. Do musicians synchronize their attention more easily with others? Why are some people super-synchronizers while others are unable to synchronize altogether? Do strong synchronizers find it easier to click with others? These are all questions we plan to investigate further.”
Until then, there’s no way to be sure if the guy trying (and failing) to do the worm is a quality conversationalist, let alone a trustworthy confidant. But it’s certainly not looking good for him.