There is increasing scientific interest in elucidating the biological mechanisms underlying cooperative behaviors. Humans have developed a high degree of complexity in their cooperativity, which has been defined as hyper-cooperativity. An interesting biological marker to study how two individuals are emotionally linked when they cooperate is their psychophysiological synchronization (the overlapping of signals as indicators of Autonomous Nervous System activation). Hence, the main aim of this study was to explore participants’ psychophysiological synchronization, based on electrocardiograms (ECG) and galvanic skin response (GSR) signals in a sample of strangers who were set up to cooperate (n
= 29 pairs of same sex strangers; mean age = 20.52 ± 1.72), compared to participants who were forced to compete (n
= 22 pairs of same sex strangers; mean age = 20.45 ± 1.53) in a laboratory setting. Moreover, the roles of the participants’ gender and the outcomes (positive or negative) obtained in the cooperation were examined as potential moderators of this psychophysiological synchronization. Results showed a progressive increase in ECG and GSR signal synchronization in participants who cooperated, reaching the highest levels of synchronization during the recovery period. Moreover, cooperation induced higher GSR synchronization in comparison with competition. Finally, although gender played an important role in the psychophysiological synchronization during cooperation (women presented the highest overlapping of GSR signals), feedback about the participants’ performance was not significantly associated with their psychophysiological synchronization. Therefore, research in this field would help us to understand more about the body’s physiological responses to different types of social interactions, such as cooperation and competition, providing an opportunity to establish interaction strategies that would be physiologically desirable.
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