Accurate control of interpersonal distances in social contexts is an important determinant of effective social interactions. Although comfortable interpersonal distance seems to be dependent on social factors such as the gender, age and activity of the confederates, it also seems to be modulated by the way we represent our peripersonal-action space. To test this hypothesis, the present study investigated the relation between the emotional responses registered through electrodermal activity (EDA) triggered by human-like point-light displays (PLDs) carrying different facial expressions (neutral, angry, happy) when located in the participants peripersonal or extrapersonal space, and the comfort distance with the same PLDs when approaching and crossing the participants fronto-parallel axis on the right or left side. The results show an increase of the phasic EDA for PLDs with angry facial expressions located in the peripersonal space (reachability judgment task), in comparison to the same PLDs located in the extrapersonal space, which was not observed for PLDs with neutral or happy facial expressions. The results also show an increase of the comfort distance for PLDs approaching the participants with an angry facial expression (interpersonal comfort distance judgment task), in comparison to PLDs with happy and neutral ones, which was related to the increase of the physiological response. Overall, the findings indicate that comfort social space can be predicted from the emotional reaction triggered by a confederate when located within the observer's peripersonal space. This suggests that peripersonal-action space and interpersonal-social space are similarly sensitive to the emotional valence of the confederate, which could reflect a common adaptive mechanism in specifying theses spaces to subtend interactions with both the physical and social environment, but also to ensure body protection from potential threats.

Physiological response to facial expressions in peripersonal space determines interpersonal distance in a social interaction context

Ruggiero, Gennaro;Iachini, Tina;
2018

Abstract

Accurate control of interpersonal distances in social contexts is an important determinant of effective social interactions. Although comfortable interpersonal distance seems to be dependent on social factors such as the gender, age and activity of the confederates, it also seems to be modulated by the way we represent our peripersonal-action space. To test this hypothesis, the present study investigated the relation between the emotional responses registered through electrodermal activity (EDA) triggered by human-like point-light displays (PLDs) carrying different facial expressions (neutral, angry, happy) when located in the participants peripersonal or extrapersonal space, and the comfort distance with the same PLDs when approaching and crossing the participants fronto-parallel axis on the right or left side. The results show an increase of the phasic EDA for PLDs with angry facial expressions located in the peripersonal space (reachability judgment task), in comparison to the same PLDs located in the extrapersonal space, which was not observed for PLDs with neutral or happy facial expressions. The results also show an increase of the comfort distance for PLDs approaching the participants with an angry facial expression (interpersonal comfort distance judgment task), in comparison to PLDs with happy and neutral ones, which was related to the increase of the physiological response. Overall, the findings indicate that comfort social space can be predicted from the emotional reaction triggered by a confederate when located within the observer's peripersonal space. This suggests that peripersonal-action space and interpersonal-social space are similarly sensitive to the emotional valence of the confederate, which could reflect a common adaptive mechanism in specifying theses spaces to subtend interactions with both the physical and social environment, but also to ensure body protection from potential threats.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11591/394240
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