In East Asian cultures, people maintain larger interpersonal distances than in European or American cultures. We investigated whether a preference for averted gaze might be responsible for this difference. Typically, when measuring interpersonal distance, participants are asked to maintain eye contact. This request might bias findings due to cultural differences in the interpretation of direct gaze. We had Japanese and German participants adjust preferred interpersonal distance in a standardized laboratory task, using averaged faces with straight-ahead or averted gaze direction. In line with previous findings, Japanese participants preferred overall larger interpersonal distances, and female?female dyads preferred the smallest distances. In contrast, there was no pervasive effect of gaze on interpersonal distance, as confirmed with Bayesian statistics. Thus, differences in the reactions to mutual gaze cannot explain the cultural preferences for interpersonal distance.
Bibliographical notedoi: 10.1177/0022022118798513
- Cognitive Science