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New Study Sheds Light on Interpersonal Space Dynamics

New Study Sheds Light on Interpersonal Space Dynamics

Science News

In a groundbreaking study published in Scientific Reports, researchers from Japan have delved into the intricacies of interpersonal space (IPS), revealing how our social relationships influence our physiological and psychological reactions to others’ proximity. This research, led by Assistant Professor Kae Mukai of Waseda University, with contributions from Dr. Tomoko Isomura of Nagoya University and Professors Ryoji Onagawa and Katsumi Watanabe from Waseda University, has significant implications for understanding communication dynamics.

The study primarily focused on contrasting responses elicited by friends or acquaintances in comparison to those induced by strangers. Traditional IPS research emphasized physiological changes, such as increased heart rate and discomfort, when strangers encroach on our personal space. However, Mukai’s team innovatively explored the responses to familiar individuals at varying positions within the IPS.

The methodology involved electrocardiogram (ECG) data to observe changes in discomfort, heart rate, and heart rate variability (HRV)!!

Moreover, a marker of parasympathetic nervous system activity. The research comprised two tasks: a static standing task with friends in various positions within the IPS, and a similar task with a cylindrical object as a substitute for a person.

Results revealed that the presence of familiar people, especially in direct face-to-face interaction (F-see condition), led to the most significant discomfort but also a notable decrease in heart rate and an increase in HRV. This implies that familiar faces in our IPS activate our “rest and digest” nervous response, as opposed to the “fight or flight” response typically triggered by strangers.

These findings could reshape how we understand social interactions and communication, particularly for diverse populations. Dr. Mukai believes that their work could pave the way for developing more effective communication methods, catering to varied responses to others’ presence.

The significance of this research extends beyond academia, potentially impacting everyday social interactions and communication strategies. It underscores the importance of social relationships in modulating our bodily responses and opens new avenues for further exploration in the field.

For more detailed insights into this innovative study, refer to the original paper titled “Electrocardiographic activity depends on the relative position between intimate persons” in Scientific Reports (DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-024-54439-5). For further information on Waseda University’s diverse research initiatives and achievements, visit their website at https://www.waseda.jp/top/en.

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