Tom Froese and Ezequiel A. Di Paolo
We used an evolutionary robotics methodology to generate pairs of simulated agents capable of reliably establishing and maintaining a coordination pattern under noisy conditions. Unlike previous related work, agents were only evolved for this ability and not for their capacity to discriminate social contingency (i.e., a live responsive partner) from non- contingent engagements (i.e., a recording). However, when they were made to interact with a recording of their partner made during a successful previous interaction, the coordination pattern could not be established. An analysis of the system's underlying dynamics revealed (i) that stability of the coordination pattern requires ongoing mutuality of interaction, and (ii) that the interaction process is not only constituted by, but also constitutive of, individual behavior. We suggest that this stability of coordination is a general property of a certain class of interactively coupled dynamical systems, and conclude that psychological explanations of an individual's sensitivity to social contingency need to take into account the role of the interaction process.