Where does one stand: a biological account of preferred interpersonal distance


A., Perry, Nichiporuk N., and Knight R.T. “Where does one stand: a biological account of preferred interpersonal distance.” Social Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience 11, no. 2 (2016): 317 - 326.


What determines how close you choose to stand to someone? Why do some people prefer farther distances than others? We hypothesized that an important factor is one's sensory sensitivity level, i.e. how sensitive one is to nearby visual stimulation, noise, touch or smell. This study characterizes the behavioral, hormonal and electrophysiological metrics of interpersonal distance (IPD) preferences in relation to levels of sensory sensitivity. Using both an ecologically realistic task and electroencephalogram (EEG), we found that sensory sensitivity levels predicted IPD preferences, such that the more sensitive one is the farther distance they prefer. Furthermore, electrophysiological evidence revealed that individuals with higher sensory sensitivity show more alpha suppression for approaching stimuli, strengthening the notion that early sensory cortical excitability is involved in one's social decision of how close to stand to another. The results provide evidence that a core human metri

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Last updated on 12/19/2017