Thursday, 28 July 2016

Introversion and human-contaminant disgust sensitivity predict personal space

Volume 82, August 2015, Pages 185–187
Short Communication

  • School of Experimental Psychology, University of Bristol, 12a Priory Road, Bristol BS8 1TU, United Kingdom


Individuals vary in preferred physical proximity to others, or personal space.
Personal space may serve disease-avoidance functions.
Disgust sensitivity was found to predict personal space.
This effect was specific to human-contaminant disgust sensitivity.


How far do people prefer to stand from others during interpersonal interactions? Individuals vary in what has been termed personal space, and this variation appears to be systematic. For instance, personal space tends to be larger among more introverted individuals. The present study investigated whether personality variables relevant to threat perceptions may predict personal space. One type of threat that may be neutralized via physical distancing is infectious disease. This study examined whether individual differences in pathogen-relevant disgust sensitivity (particularly with respect to other humans) may predict personal space. In a study employing a behavioral measure of personal space (N = 134), human-contaminant disgust sensitivity (but not nonhuman-contaminant disgust sensitivity) was found to predict personal space while controlling for trait anxiety and introversion. Introversion was found to exert an independent predictive effect.


  • Behavioral immune system;
  • Disease avoidance;
  • Disgust;
  • Introversion;
  • Personal space