Cardiac synchrony is a crucial component of shared experiences, considered as an objective measure of emotional processes accompanying empathic interactions. No study has investigated whether cardiac synchrony among people engaged in collective situations links to the individual emotional evaluation of the shared experience. We investigated theatrical live performances as collective experiences evoking strong emotional engagement in the audience. Cross Recurrence Quantification Analysis was applied to obtain the cardiac synchrony of twelve spectators’ quartets attending to two live acting performances. This physiological measure was then correlated with spectators’ emotional intensity ratings. Results showed an expected increment in synchrony among people belonging to the same quartet during both performances attendance and rest periods. Furthermore, participants’ cardiac synchrony was found to be correlated with audience’s convergence in the explicit emotional evaluation of the performances they attended to. These findings demonstrate that the mere co-presence of other people sharing a common experience is enough for cardiac synchrony to occur spontaneously and that it increases in function of a shared and coherent explicit emotional experience.
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