Friday, September 06, 2013

Better safe than sorry?...Anxiety and our body’s safety margin.

Sambo and Iannetti find interesting correlations between our anxiety and our interpersonal space boundaries:
The defensive peripersonal space represents a “safety margin” advantageous for survival. Its spatial extension and the possible relationship with personality traits have never been investigated. Here, in a population of 15 healthy human participants, we show that the defensive peripersonal space has a sharp boundary, located between 20 and 40 cm from the face, and that within such space there is a thin, “highest-risk area” closest to the face (i.e., an “ultra-near” defensive space). Single-subject analysis revealed clear interindividual differences in the extension of such peripersonal space. These differences are positively related to individual variability in trait anxiety. These findings point to the potential for measuring a range of defensive behaviors in relation to individual levels of anxiety. Such measures will allow developing procedures to test risk assessment abilities, particularly in professions that require reacting quickly to aversive stimuli near the body, such as firemen, policemen, and military officers. This may also lead to possible interventions to improve their performance under pressure.

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