Sleep and social interaction: The effects of sleep deprivation on communication, cooperation, and helpfulness

Project leader

Funding source

Forte - Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2014
End date: 31/12/2016
Funding: 1980000 SEK


The ability to communicate and cooperate is necessary for successful social interactions. In some circumstances it could mean the difference between life and death; healthcare workers have to be able to inform each other about patients, and pilots have to be able to land through coordinating with each other and with air traffic controllers. But despite the fact that people work and socialize with each other every day, it is virtually unknown how these abilities are affected when they haven't gotten enough sleep. Meanwhile, sleep problems are becoming more and more common. Sleep loss has a negative effect on cognition as well as on irritability and subjective sociability. This indicates that disturbed sleep might have dire consequences for social interactions, especially regarding collaborative work tasks. The purpose of this project is to assess how sleep deprivation affects social interaction in terms of communication, cooperation, and helpfulness. The aim of a first study is to experimentally investigate how communication and cooperation between two individuals is affected when one or both parties suffer from sleep loss. Participants will be divided into pairs, where some have slept (8h) and others haven't (0h), and asked to collaborate on demanding tasks. A secondary aim is to assess how sleep deprivation affects helpfulness and emotional reactions during interaction. In a second study, 80 individuals will be surveyed during one working week in order to determine the relationship between natural sleep variations and social interactions, both through self-reports and objective measures. Thes project will result in increased knowledge regarding how sleep loss and tiredness affect how people cooperate and communicate. Both studies are of high relevance to society since people's ability to interact with their colleagues, family members, and friends is crucial, not only in order to perform well at work, but also for their wellbeing - both short term and long term.

Last updated on 2017-24-03 at 13:00

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