Skip to content

Information for students, faculty and staff regarding COVID-19. (Updated: 15 April 2021)


Social Breathing

Research project How are intersubjectivity, we-ness, mutuality and authenticity to be studies in such a way that they may yet again be taken serious in clinical practice and higher education? A problem today is that the field is very fragmented and lack an overarching, interdisciplinary and valid theoretical framework. We have a potential solution, introducing Social Breathing as a latent construct organizing the multi-person system.

Head of project

Niclas Kaiser
Associate professor

Project overview

Project period:

2019-01-01 2023-12-31


Umeå university
Åke Wibergs Stiftelse

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Psychology

Research area


Project description

We argue that the processes involved in Social Breathing are: 1) automatic, 2) implicit, 3) temporal, 4) in the form of mutual bi-directional interwoven exchanges between social partners and 5) embodied in the coordination of the brains and behaviors of social partners. And we are confident that this model could guide research on autism, relationships and psychotherapy.

Cross-disciplinary evidence suggesting that these processes involve a multi-person whole-brain-body network which is critical for the development of both we-ness and relational skills. We address what it means to “engage in a relationship” and suggest Social Breathing as a model of immersing ourselves in the metaphorical social air around us, which is necessary for shared intention and joint action. We emphasize how emergent properties of social systems arise, such as the shared culture of groups, which cannot be reduced to the individuals involved.

If the concept of Social Breathing is valid, it will show explanatory power on the difference between online communication and collocated meetings. Furhermore, we should be able to study its different sub-modalities by manipulating them in online communication. But in order to do that successfully, the path toward objective studies of intersubjectivity and psychological nearness will need further developed mathematical models involving systemic properties, e.g. in our proposed Mathematics of Two Becoming One (MoTO).