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Journal Article

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


Bracher,  Angelika
International Max Planck Research School on Neuroscience of Communication: Function, Structure, and Plasticity, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics, University of Leipzig, Germany;

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von Mohr, M., Silva, P. C., Vagnoni, E., Bracher, A., Bertoni, T., Serino, A., et al. (2023). My social comfort zone: Attachment anxiety shapes peripersonal and interpersonal space. iScience, 26(2): 105955. doi:10.1016/j.isci.2023.105955.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000C-3E52-3
Following positive social exchanges, the neural representation of interactive space around the body (peripersonal space; PPS) expands, while 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 show 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.