Measuring Physiological Influence in Dyads: A Guide to Designing, Implementing, and Analyzing Dyadic Physiological Studies

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Abstract

Scholars across domains in psychology, physiology, and neuroscience have long been interested in the study of shared physiological experiences between people. Recent technological and analytic advances allow researchers to examine new questions about how shared physiological experiences occur. Yet comprehensive guides that address the theoretical, methodological, and analytic components of studying these processes are lacking. The goal of this article is to provide such a guide. We begin by addressing basic theoretical issues in the study of shared physiological states by presenting five guiding theoretical principles for making psychological inferences from physiological influence—the extent to which one dyad member’s physiology predicts the other dyad member’s physiology at a future time point. Second, keeping theoretical and conceptual concerns at the forefront, we outline considerations and recommendations for designing, implementing, and analyzing dyadic psychophysiological studies. In so doing, we discuss the different types of physiological measures one could use to address different theoretical questions. Third, we provide three illustrative examples in which we estimate physiological influence, using the stability and influence model. We conclude by providing detail about power analyses for the model and by comparing the strengths and limitations of this model with preexisting models.

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