The relationship between empathy and Peripersonal Space.

Marios Theocharopoulos, Elizabeth Austin, Elena Gherri

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Peripersonal space (PPS), the space closely surrounding the body, is typically characterised by enhanced multisensory integration. Recent evidence has demonstrated that the presence and actions of other people can modulate visuo-tactile integration in near space suggesting that PPS can be used to represent other individuals. Furthermore, the space near the body might also be relevant to make self vs. other discriminations as revealed by the presence of empathetic responses to near, but not far, painful stimuli. In the present study we investigate whether individual differences in trait empathy can predict the strength or extension of visuo-tactile PPS. Participants made speeded elevation discrimination responses to vibro-tactile stimuli, ignoring irrelevant visual distractors presented simultaneously from the same (i.e. congruent) or different (i.e. incongruent) elevations. Visual distractors were presented next to the hands (near), 25 cm (middle) or 50 cm distant (far). The crossmodal-congruency-effect (CCE) (incongruent minus congruent visuo-tactile trials) was computed separately for the different distractor locations and its association with empathy was examined. High scores in Empathetic Concern were associated with weak visuo-tactile integration in the Near and Middle conditions. These results suggest that highly empathetic individuals have a weaker representation of PPS which might facilitate the representation of and the interaction with other individuals.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 29 Jun 2018
EventBodyRepresentation Network - Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 29 Jun 2018 → …


WorkshopBodyRepresentation Network
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Period29/06/18 → …


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