I-Space: The Effects of Emotional Valence and Source of Music on Interpersonal Distance
Journal article, 2011
Background: The ubiquitous use of personal music players in over-crowded public transport alludes to the hypothesis that apart from making the journey more pleasant, listening to music through headphones may also affect representations of our personal space, that is, the emotionally-tinged zone around the human body that people feel is "their space". We evaluated the effects of emotional valence (positive versus negative) and source (external, i.e. loudspeakers, versus embedded, i.e. headphones) of music on the participant's interpersonal distance when interacting with others. Methodology/Principal Findings: Personal space was evaluated as the comfort interpersonal distance between participant and experimenter during both active and passive approach tasks. Our results show that, during passive approach tasks, listening to positive versus negative emotion-inducing music reduces the representation of personal space, allowing others to come closer to us. With respect to a no-music condition, an embedded source of positive emotion-inducing music reduced personal space, while an external source of negative emotion-inducing music expanded personal space. Conclusions/Significance: The results provide the first empirical evidence of the relation between induced emotional state, as a result of listening to positive music through headphones, and personal space when interacting with others. This research might help to understand the benefit that people find in using personal music players in crowded situations, such as when using the public transport in urban settings.