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Scientific article
Open access
English

Sharpening of peripersonal space during the COVID-19 pandemic

Published inCurrent Biology, vol. 31, no. 14, p. R889-R890
Publication date2021
Abstract

Our social world has been transformed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond the direct impact of the pandemic on physical health, the social distancing measures implemented worldwide to slow down disease transmission have dramatically impacted social interactions1,2. These measures, including orders to stay at home and to maintain a social distance of at least 2 meters, have been essential to limit the spread of the disease, but they have had severe costs for humans as social animals2. Right before and right after the adoption of the most stringent measures in Switzerland in Spring 2020, we were conducting a series of experiments to measure the representation of the so-called peripersonal space - the space immediately surrounding our body, where we normally interact with objects and other individuals3. We found that the introduction of social distancing measures led to a reduction in the extent of the peripersonal space and enhanced its segregation between individuals, as if the presence of others in close space would activate an implicit form of freezing response.

Keywords
  • COVID-19/epidemiology/psychology
  • Humans
  • Personal Space
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Physical Distancing
  • Switzerland/epidemiology
  • Touch Perception
  • Virtual Reality
Citation (ISO format)
SERINO, Silvia et al. Sharpening of peripersonal space during the COVID-19 pandemic. In: Current Biology, 2021, vol. 31, n° 14, p. R889–R890. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2021.06.001
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Article (Published version)
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ISSN of the journal0960-9822
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