The defensive peripersonal space (DPPS) is a vital “safety margin” surrounding the body. When a threatening stimulus is delivered inside the DPPS, subcortical defensive responses like the handblink reflex (HBR) are adjusted depending on the perceived threat content. In three experiments, we explored whether and how defensive responses are affected by the interpersonal interaction within the DPPS of the face. In Experiment 1, we found that the HBR is enhanced when the threat is brought close to the face not only by one’s own stimulated hand, but also by another person’s hand, although to a significantly lesser extent. In Experiments 2 and 3, we found that the HBR is also enhanced when the hand of the participant enters the DPPS of another individual, either in egocentric or in allocentric perspective. This enhancement is larger in participants with strong empathic tendency when the other individual is in a third person perspective. These results indicate that interpersonal interactions shape perception of threat and defensive responses. These effects are particularly evident in individuals with greater tendency to having empathic concern to other people.

Interpersonal interactions and empathy modulate perception of threat and defensive responses

FOSSATARO, CARLOTTA;GARBARINI, Francesca;
2016-01-01

Abstract

The defensive peripersonal space (DPPS) is a vital “safety margin” surrounding the body. When a threatening stimulus is delivered inside the DPPS, subcortical defensive responses like the handblink reflex (HBR) are adjusted depending on the perceived threat content. In three experiments, we explored whether and how defensive responses are affected by the interpersonal interaction within the DPPS of the face. In Experiment 1, we found that the HBR is enhanced when the threat is brought close to the face not only by one’s own stimulated hand, but also by another person’s hand, although to a significantly lesser extent. In Experiments 2 and 3, we found that the HBR is also enhanced when the hand of the participant enters the DPPS of another individual, either in egocentric or in allocentric perspective. This enhancement is larger in participants with strong empathic tendency when the other individual is in a third person perspective. These results indicate that interpersonal interactions shape perception of threat and defensive responses. These effects are particularly evident in individuals with greater tendency to having empathic concern to other people.
2016
6
19353
19353
www.nature.com/srep/index.html
Empathy, Defensive Responses, Hand Blink Reflex
Fossataro, C.; Sambo, C.F.; Garbarini, F.; Iannetti, G.D
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2318/1591766
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