Interpersonal Distance Stress (12-23-20)

Research done by Welsch and teammates, indicates that people are stressed by the interpersonal distances required to combat the spread of the pandemic; calming design options (for example), can partially combat this tension.  As the Welsch team reports: “Mandatory rules for social distancing to curb the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic require individuals to maintain a critical interpersonal distance above 1.5 m. However, this contradicts our natural preference, which is closer to 1 m for non-intimate encounters, for example, when asking a stranger for directions. . . . research on preferred interpersonal distances suggests that social distancing could induce discomfort, heighten arousal.  . . . . We suggest that enforcing a physical distance of 1.5–2 m presents a serious challenge to behavioral norms.

Robin Welsch, Heiko Hecht, Lewis Chuang, and Christoph von Castell.  2020. “Interpersonal Distance in the SARS-CoV-2 Crisis.”  Human Factors, vol. 62, no. 7, pp. 1095-1101, https://doi.org/10.1177/0018720820956858