Aarhus Node

The LEGO Creator Race:

Joint Action in a Building Task

Sebastian Wallot, John J. McGraw & Andreas Roepstorff

At the 2012 LEGO IDEA Conference, hosted in Billund, Denmark, sixteen attendees of the Creator Race Workshop participated in our field study of joint action. The task of the participants was to build a LEGO car that would be aesthetic and functional after just 15 minutes of cooperative work. Participants constructed their cars in teams of two, but to make the joint building process even more challenging, two of their hands were bound together; participants were permitted to use only their free, unbound hands. Motion capture devices recorded the movement of the participants’ free hands during the building process (see Figure 1).

After participants completed the building task, their cars were raced against each other down a steep ramp that featured a precipitous jump at the end (see Figure 2).

The team whose car managed to survive the challenges of the jump and then rolled the longest distance on the other side won a prize (two LEGO Creator sets). After assessing their cars’ performance, participants completed a questionnaire regarding their experience working together on this task. Generally, those who reported high levels of coordination during the building process also perceived the task as more fun. This result is in line with research about the subjective experience of joint performance, but how does perceived cooperation relate to the movements of the participants’ hands during building?

An analysis of the hand movements gave surprising results: the fewer similar movements participants made, the higher their perceived cooperation (see Figure 3).

oes the lack of similarities in hand movements only relate to participants’ subjective experience or does it also translate into better car performance?

As it turns out, the latter seems to be true: the less similar the participants’ hand movements during the building task, the better their car performed in the race (see Figure 4).

In a nutshell: the more effectively participants divided the building process within their team, the better they perceived their cooperation, the more fun they hand, and the better their car performed!

Acknowledgements: We would like to thank all the participants of the LEGO Creator Workshop, Bo Stjerne Thomsen of the LEGO Learning Institute, as well as Andrew Seenan and Astrid Graabæk, both of whom work as LEGO designers. This work was supported by the Marie-Curie Initial Training Network, “TESIS: Towards an Embodied Science of InterSubjectivity” (FP7-PEOPLE-2010-ITN, 264828).”

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