The effect of height and shoulder-to-hip ratio on interpersonal space in virtual environment
Previous research has associated men’s physical features such as height and Shoulder-to-Hip Ratio (SHR) with dominance. Proxemics literature has suggested that the interpersonal space (comfort distance) increases in threatening and uncomfortable situations and decreases in unthreatening and comfortable situations. In the current study, we aimed to investigate the effect of different heights and SHRs on comfortable interpersonal distance by systematic manipulation of virtual confederates bodily features. More specifically, participants determined their comfort distances from virtual male confederates with different heights and SHRs in a virtual environment. We hypothesized that a virtual confederate’s height and SHR influences the perception of interpersonal dominance; and consequently interpersonal space increases for taller and broader confederates as a result of increased interpersonal dominance. Results showed that comfortable interpersonal distance was positively associated with height for male participants, but not for female participants. No effect was found for shoulder width, neither for male nor female participants. Results were discussed in terms of the importance of height as a signal of dominance and fighting ability.
KeywordsInterpersonal space Comfort distance Height Shoulder-to-hip ratio Dominance Fighting ability
This study was supported by Bial Foundation Grant 143/14. FP receives funding from Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT) Portugal through grant SFRH/BD/114366/2016; JA receives funding from FCT Portugal through grant IF/01298/2014.
Compliance with ethical standards
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
- Archer, J., & Thanzami, V. (2009). The relation between mate value, entitlement, physical aggression, size and strength among a sample of young Indian men. Evolution and Human Behavior, 30(5), 315–321. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2009.03.003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Batres, C., Re, D. E., & Perrett, D. I. (2015). Influence of perceived height, masculinity, and age on each other and on perceptions of dominance in male faces. Perception, 44(11), 1293–1309. https://doi.org/10.1177/0301006615596898.
- Blaker, N. M., & van Vugt, M. (2014). The status-size hypothesis: How cues of physical size and social status influence each other. In J. T. Cheng, J. L. Tracy & C. Anderson (Eds.), The Psychology of Social Status (pp. 119–137). New York:Springer.https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-0867-7_6.Google Scholar
- Blascovich, J. (2002). Social influence within immersive virtual environments. In R. Schroeder (Ed.), The social life of avatars (pp. 127–145). London: Springer.Google Scholar
- Ellis, L. (1994). The high and the mighty among man and beast: How universal is the relationship between height (or body size) and social status. In L. Ellis (Ed.), Social Stratification and Socioeconomic Inequality, Vol. 2 (pp. 93–112). Westport: Praeger.Google Scholar
- Gallup, A. C., White, D. D., & Gallup, G. G. (2007). Handgrip strength predicts sexual behavior, body morphology, and aggression in male college students. Evolution and Human Behavior, 28(6), 423–429. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2007.07.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hall, E. T. (1966). The hidden dimension. New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar
- Hill, A. K., Hunt, J., Welling, L. L. M., Cárdenas, R. A., Rotella, M. A., Wheatley, J. R., Dawood, K., Shriver, M., & Puts, D. A. (2013). Quantifying the strength and form of sexual selection on men’s traits. Evolution and Human Behavior, 34(5), 334–341. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2013.05.004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hughes, S. M., Dispenza, F., & Gallup, G. G. (2004). Ratings of voice attractiveness predict sexual behavior and body configuration. Evolution and Human Behavior, 25(5), 295–304. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2004.06.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Iachini, T., Coello, Y., Frassinetti, F., Senese, V. P., Galante, F., & Ruggiero, G. (2016). Peripersonal and interpersonal space in virtual and real environments: Effects of gender and age. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 45, 154–164. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2016.01.004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Kurzban, R., & Weeden, J. (2005). HurryDate: Mate preferences in action. Evolution and Human Behavior, 26(3), 227–244. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2004.08.012.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- McElligott, A. G., Gammell, M. P., Harty, H. C., Paini, D. R., Murphy, D. T., Walsh, J. T., & Hayden, T. J. (2001). Sexual size dimorphism in fallow deer (Dama dama): Do larger, heavier males gain greater mating success? Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 49(4), 266–272. https://doi.org/10.1007/s002650000293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Parker, G. A. (1974). Assessment strategy and the evolution of fighting behaviour. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 47(1), 223–243. https://doi.org/10.1016/0022-5193(74)90111-8.
- Pawłowski, B. (2003). Variable preferences for sexual dimorphism in height as a strategy for increasing the pool of potential partners in humans. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 270(1516), 709–712. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2002.2294.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Rashidi, M., Keshtkaran, K., Zabihidan, S., Hosseinchari, M., & Pazhoohi, F. (2012). Effect of different professions’ clothing on children’s height perception. The Spanish Journal of Psychology, 15(3), 1038–1042. https://doi.org/10.5209/rev_SJOP.2012.v15.n3.39394.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar