HoneyComb©: Emergence of Leadership: Leading and Following in Groups

How is behaviour of individuals coordinated as a group? This is a fundamental question, encompassing phenomena such as bird flocking, fish schooling, and the innumerable activities in human groups that require people to synchronise their actions. If we acknowledge the biological continuity of coordination requirements the study of human and non-human primates gives us the opportunity to identify basic functions and mechanisms of group coordination and potentially illuminate unique aspects of coordination in human groups.

In cooperation with colleagues from other scientific disciplines (Biology, Psychology, Physics, Computer Science), we aim at describing mechanisms how groups synchronise and coordinate their behaviour. Our goal is the development of a model of group coordination which comprises process-related (e.g. communication) as well as structural (e.g. resources and ecological conditions) parameters.

We have developed an experimental paradigm, the HoneyComb© computer-based multi-client game, to empirically investigate human movement coordination and leadership. Using economic games as a model, we set monetary incentives to motivate players on a virtual playfield to reach goals via players’ movements.





HoneyComb 1HoneyComb 2



In the HoneyComb© paradigm,parameters can be varied. Players’ avatars can be represented in different sizes, colours, with varying ranges of sight and can be motivated by different incentives or information.

During an experiment, each participant controls a dot on a hexagon playfield with a mouse. The dot has twice the size of the co-players’ dots. All visual components are displayed in grey, black and white to avoid influences of colours. The dot can be moved by clicking into neighbouring fields. After each move, a small tail is shown for each player, pointing in the direction from which he or she hailed. These tails disappear after 4000 ms if players chose to delay their next move.

In the picture (above) the perspective of the player represented by the red avatar is shown. His/her sight is limited within a range of one hexagonal field around him/her. That means, the shaded dots are not visible to him/her. Here, two “minority” players receive a higher incentive than the other eight “majority” co-players: double versus one Euro on the outer left field (for a better view click on the picture). 



The two videos illustrate group movement in an experimental game conducted by Boos, Pritz, Lange and Belz (2014):





Video 1: Example of collective movement from the perspective of a "majority" player (for a better view use the "fullscreen" option by clicking on the two arrows).











Video 2: Example of collective movement from the same group – from perspectives of a "majority" player (right side) and a "minority" player (left side).











Current Dissertation

Marie Ritter

Title: Good decisions in groups and collective trust - HoneyComb© as a tool in group decision research



  • Boos, M., Kolbe, M., & Kappeler, P. (2011). Coordination in Human and Non-human Primate Groups: Why Compare and How? In M. Boos, M. Kolbe, Ellwart, T., & Kappeler, P. (eds.), Coordination in Human and Primate Groups. (pp. 3-10). Berlin Heidelberg: Springer.
  • Boos, M., Kolbe, M., & Strack, M. (2011). An Inclusive Model of Group Coordination. In M. Boos, M. Kolbe, Ellwart, T., & Kappeler, P. (eds.), Coordination in Human and Primate Groups. (pp. 11-35). Berlin Heidelberg: Springer.
  • Strack, M., Kolbe, M., & Boos, M. (2011). Dimensions of Group Coordination: Applicability Test of the Coordination Mechanism Circumplex Model. In M. Boos, M. Kolbe, Ellwart, T., & Kappeler, P. (eds.), Coordination in Human and Primate Groups (pp. 57-73). Berlin Heidelberg: Springer.