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Coregulation (or co-regulation) is a term described by psychologist Alan Fogel, as a "continuous unfolding of individual action that is susceptible to being continuously modified by the continuously changing actions of the partner." An important aspect of this idea is that communication is a continuous and dynamic process, rather than the exchange of discrete information. Fogel set forth his ideas in his 1993 book, Developing Through Relationships. As a simple example of coregulation, a speaker may adjust their words or tone of voice based on their perceptions of a listener's facial expressions or body language - and this may occur on an ongoing basis. Fogel asserts that coregulation is creative because social partners create meaning dynamically together, rather than simply exchanging information about what was known to them prior to their interaction. In a recent paper, Fogel and a colleague, Andrea Garvey, propose a theoretical model of "Alive Communication" which is based on dynamic systems theory and includes three linked processes, coregulation, "ordinary variability," and innovation.
Individuals on the autism spectrum have extremely minimal, or no coregulation, and without intervention cannot participate in social interaction as equal partners.Autism Spectrum Quarterly Winter 2005 Coregulation is a key concept in Relationship Development Intervention, a treatment program for autism and Asperger syndrome.
Coregulation has also been studied in the context of nonvocal primate communication, as described in the book The Dynamic Dance by Barbara King. According to Roles of Feedback and Information in Primate Communication (an article in the American Journal of Primatology), King's work may have implications for a better understanding of the development of human communication, with roots in nonverbal coregulatory interactions between social partners.
- Fogel, A., Garvey, A., "Alive Communication", Infant Behavior & Development 30 (2007) 251-257.
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