The space around the body crucially serves a variety of functions, first and foremost, preserving one’s own safety and avoiding injury. Recent research has shown that emotional information, in particular threatening facial expressions, affects the regulation of peripersonal-reaching space (PPS, for action with objects) and interpersonal-comfort space (IPS, for social interaction). Here we explored if emotional facial expressions may similarly or differently affect both spaces in terms of psychophysiological reactions (cardiac inter-beat intervals: IBIs, i.e. inverse of heart rate; Skin Conductance Response amplitude: SCR amplitude) and spatial distance. Through Immersive Virtual Reality technology, participants determined reaching-distance (PPS) and comfort-distance (IPS) from virtual confederates exhibiting happy/angry/neutral facial expressions while being approached by them. During these interactions, spatial distance and psychophysiological reactions were recorded. Results revealed that when interacting with angry virtual confederates the distance increased similarly in both comfort-social and reaching-action spaces. Moreover, interacting with virtual confederates exhibiting angry rather than happy or neutral expressions provoked similar psychophysiological activations (SCR amplitude, IBIs) in both spaces. Regression analyses showed that psychophysiological activations, particularly SCR amplitude in response to virtual confederates approaching with angry expressions, were able to predict the increase of PPS and IPS. These findings suggest that self-protection functions could be the expression of a common defensive mechanism shared by social and action spaces.

Defensive functions provoke similar psychophysiological reactions in reaching and comfort spaces

Ruggiero G.
Writing – Original Draft Preparation
;
Iachini Tina
2021

Abstract

The space around the body crucially serves a variety of functions, first and foremost, preserving one’s own safety and avoiding injury. Recent research has shown that emotional information, in particular threatening facial expressions, affects the regulation of peripersonal-reaching space (PPS, for action with objects) and interpersonal-comfort space (IPS, for social interaction). Here we explored if emotional facial expressions may similarly or differently affect both spaces in terms of psychophysiological reactions (cardiac inter-beat intervals: IBIs, i.e. inverse of heart rate; Skin Conductance Response amplitude: SCR amplitude) and spatial distance. Through Immersive Virtual Reality technology, participants determined reaching-distance (PPS) and comfort-distance (IPS) from virtual confederates exhibiting happy/angry/neutral facial expressions while being approached by them. During these interactions, spatial distance and psychophysiological reactions were recorded. Results revealed that when interacting with angry virtual confederates the distance increased similarly in both comfort-social and reaching-action spaces. Moreover, interacting with virtual confederates exhibiting angry rather than happy or neutral expressions provoked similar psychophysiological activations (SCR amplitude, IBIs) in both spaces. Regression analyses showed that psychophysiological activations, particularly SCR amplitude in response to virtual confederates approaching with angry expressions, were able to predict the increase of PPS and IPS. These findings suggest that self-protection functions could be the expression of a common defensive mechanism shared by social and action spaces.
File in questo prodotto:
Non ci sono file associati a questo prodotto.

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11591/460865
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? 3
  • Scopus 6
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? ND
social impact