The Beast with Two Backs: Romantic Bodily Overlap in Peripersonal Space
Significant others, such as romantic partners, merge into our sense of self. Evidence suggests that our bodily selves combine with others to facilitate embodied interaction, called the bodily self-other overlap. Peripersonal space is the immediate action space around our bodies that enables interactions with the world. The boundary of peripersonal space is modulated by social interaction which is indicative of this bodily self-other overlap. In this study, we predicted that the presence of a romantic partner would modulate the participant’s peripersonal space boundary. Eighteen participants performed a modified version of the crossmodal congruency task by responding to a vibrotactile target and ignoring visual distractors at three different distances. The boundary is calculated with the crossmodal congruency effect, which measures the interference of the visual distractor on the tactile target by subtracting congruent trials from incongruent trials. We predicted an increase of the crossmodal congruency effect in the middle and far distance when participants were in the presence of their partner compared to the experimenter. However, our findings did not support this hypothesis as the two conditions did not significantly differ. Instead, we found some increase in reaction times and error rates in the far distance.