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Wahn, Basil; Karlinsky, April; Schmitz, Laura and König, Peter (2018): Let's Move It Together: A Review of Group Benefits in Joint Object Control. In: Frontiers in Psychology, Vol. 9, 918 [PDF, 461kB]


In daily life, humans frequently engage in object-directed joint actions, be it carrying a table together or jointly pulling a rope. When two or more individuals control an object together, they may distribute control by performing complementary actions, e.g., when two people hold a table at opposite ends. Alternatively, several individuals may execute control in a redundant manner by performing the same actions, e.g., when jointly pulling a rope in the same direction. Previous research has investigated whether dyads can outperform individuals in tasks where control is either distributed or redundant. The aim of the present review is to integrate findings for these two types of joint control to determine common principles and explain differing results. In sum, we find that when control is distributed, individuals tend to outperform dyads or attain similar performance levels. For redundant control, conversely, dyads have been shown to outperform individuals. We suggest that these differences can be explained by the possibility to freely divide control: Having the option to exercise control redundantly allows co-actors to coordinate individual contributions in line with individual capabilities, enabling them to maximize the benefit of the available skills in the group. In contrast, this freedom to adopt and adapt customized coordination strategies is not available when the distribution of control is determined from the outset.

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