Being like you improves my comfort space: social human-virtual confederates interactions

Gennaro Ruggiero, Francesco Ruotolo, Tina Iachini
2019 Symposium on Psychology-Based Technologies  
This study aims to explore how the comfort distance between a person and a virtual avatar (interpersonal comfort-space, IPS) is modulated by body characteristics during a social interaction. Once immersed in a virtual scenario, participants could either see virtual agents approaching them (passive condition) or moved towards them (active condition). In both conditions, participants had to press a button as soon as they felt that the distance between them and the avatar was uncomfortable.
more » ... ntly, participants could have similar or different (i.e. smaller) body-size compared to the avatar. Results showed that participants with different body size preferred larger distances as compared to those with similar body size, particularly in the passive condition. Finally, the different body size participants in the passive condition showed a gradual increase of comfort-distance with the decrease of their arms' length. These results suggest that the possibility of control modulates IPS: people prefer a larger comfort-distance when can only observe virtual agents with a big body size approaching them. Therefore, the IPS increase may reflect an evolutionary mechanism of self-protection that determines an automatic avoidance reaction to a potential violation of the near body space.
dblp:conf/psychobit/RuggieroRI19 fatcat:odepngbdcjhexmnydxjf3t5xnu