The social softness illusion (i.e., the tendency to perceive another person's skin as softer than our own) is thought to promote the sharing of social-emotional experiences because of the rewarding properties of receiving and giving social affective touch. Here we investigated whether the ability to distinguish someone else’s body from our own modulates the social softness illusion. In particular, we tested whether the spatial perspective taken by the participants and seeing or not the touched arms could alter this illusion. Pairs of female participants were assigned the roles of either the giver (i.e., delivering the touches) or the receiver (i.e., being touched). We manipulated the location of the touch (palm or forearm), the spatial perspective of the receiver’s body with respect to the giver’s body (egocentric or allocentric perspective), and the vision of the touched body part (the giver could either see both her own and the receiver’s body part, or she was blindfolded). Consistently with previous findings, the skin of another person was perceived as softer than the own one. Additionally, the illusion was present for both the forearm and the palm, and it was stronger in allocentric compared to the egocentric perspective (i.e., when the self-other distinction was clearer). These findings show that the mechanisms underpinning the ability to represent another person’s body as distinct from our own modulates the social softness illusion, and thus support the role of the social softness illusion in fostering social relationships.

Self-other distinction modulates the social softness illusion

Pyasik M.;Fortunato E.;Dal Monte O.;Schintu S.;Garbarini F.;Ciorli T.;Pia L.
2022

Abstract

The social softness illusion (i.e., the tendency to perceive another person's skin as softer than our own) is thought to promote the sharing of social-emotional experiences because of the rewarding properties of receiving and giving social affective touch. Here we investigated whether the ability to distinguish someone else’s body from our own modulates the social softness illusion. In particular, we tested whether the spatial perspective taken by the participants and seeing or not the touched arms could alter this illusion. Pairs of female participants were assigned the roles of either the giver (i.e., delivering the touches) or the receiver (i.e., being touched). We manipulated the location of the touch (palm or forearm), the spatial perspective of the receiver’s body with respect to the giver’s body (egocentric or allocentric perspective), and the vision of the touched body part (the giver could either see both her own and the receiver’s body part, or she was blindfolded). Consistently with previous findings, the skin of another person was perceived as softer than the own one. Additionally, the illusion was present for both the forearm and the palm, and it was stronger in allocentric compared to the egocentric perspective (i.e., when the self-other distinction was clearer). These findings show that the mechanisms underpinning the ability to represent another person’s body as distinct from our own modulates the social softness illusion, and thus support the role of the social softness illusion in fostering social relationships.
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Pyasik M.; Fortunato E.; Dal Monte O.; Schintu S.; Garbarini F.; Ciorli T.; Pia L.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2318/1793937
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