My social comfort zone: Attachment anxiety shapes peripersonal and interpersonal space

Mariana von Mohr, Paulo C Silva, Eleonora Vagnoni, Angelika Bracher, Tommaso Bertoni, Andrea Serino, Michael J Banissy, Paul M Jenkinson, Aikaterini Fotopoulou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Following positive social exchanges, the neural representation of interactive space around the body (peripersonal space; PPS) expands, whereas we also feel consciously more comfortable being closer to others (interpersonal distance; ID). However, it is unclear how relational traits, such as attachment styles, interact with the social malleability of our PPS and ID. A first, exploratory study (N=48) using a visuo-tactile, augmented reality task, found that PPS depended on the combined effects of social context and attachment anxiety. A follow-up preregistered study (N = 68), showed that those with high attachment anxiety demonstrated a sharper differentiation between peripersonal and extrapersonal space, even in a non-social context. A final, preregistered large-scale survey (N = 19,417) found that people scoring high in attachment anxiety prefer closer ID and differentiate their ID less based on feelings of social closeness. We conclude that attachment anxiety reduces the social malleability of both peripersonal and interpersonal space.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105955
Number of pages18
JournaliScience
Volume26
Issue number2
Early online date11 Jan 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No. 818070 , for the Consolidator Award METABODY to A.F. P.S. was funded by a PhD studentship from the University of Hertfordshire .

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No. 818070, for the Consolidator Award METABODY to A.F. P.S. was funded by a PhD studentship from the University of Hertfordshire. M.v.M. P.S. E.V. P.J. and A.F. developed the hypothesis and research plan. A.S. and T.B. provided guidance on the PPS device and analyses of data. E.V. P.S. and A.B. collected the data. M.v.M. analyzed the data for Study 1. P.S. analyzed the data for Study 2 and 3. M.v.M. wrote the manuscript, under the guidance of all authors. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript submission. The authors report no conflict of interests.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors

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