Fear to get near: personal space in individuals with psychopathic traits

Martijn van Teffelen


Past literature theorized that personal space -a physical boundary in which a person experiences discomfort when another person intrudes it- might depend on personality. This study hypothesized, that higher scores on psychopathic personality measures would lead to a larger personal space in individuals. Furthermore, as personal space is thought to function as an intraspecies aggression regulator, this study also hypothesized that personal space tends to be larger towards dominant individuals, than towards non-dominant individuals, as dominant other might be seen as possibly more aggressive. Results indicate no direct correlation between overall psychopathic traits and personal space. However, a positive correlation is found in the relationship between one particular psychopathic personality trait –Coldheartedness- and personal space. Regarding perceived dominance, it was found that individuals tested in this study kept a larger personal space towards dominant individuals. This effect was found to be independent of score on a psychopathic personality measure.

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