max_planck_logoStudy: Facing Off With Unfair Others: Introducing Proxemic Imaging as an Implicit Measure of Approach and Avoidance During Social Interaction
Researchers: Cade McCall, Tania Singer
Where: Department of Social Neuroscience, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany
Central Finding: WorldViz technology enables new methodology for measuring approach-related social interactions.

Innovating with WorldViz Motion Tracking

Cade McCall of Max Planck Berlin recently published a paper outlining a new method to measure proxemic behavior. Proxemics is a group of nonverbal behavioral measurements that strongly correlate with an individual’s prejudices and attitudes toward others. In this work, proxemics is measured from interpersonal distance, body orientation, and gaze direction.

Previous methods of measuring proxemic behavior have been found to have flaws, be resource intensive, or be limited in flexibility, so McCall and Singer decided to employ WorldViz PPT motion tracking hardware and software to more accurately and efficiently measure the proxemic behavior of their subjects.

The Study

The experiment induced subjects into believing one person (a confederate) in the experiment is fair and the other (also a confederate) unfair. The experimenters measured three variables: 1) the subject’s proxemic behavior toward the other two people, 2) the explicit (monetary) punishment the subject doled out to the other two people, 3) and a series of self-reported measurements concerning how the subject felt about the two people in the experiment with them.

The immersive environment and experimental routines were created and driven using Vizard, WorldViz’s VR development platform.

Analyzing PPT data

The data was sent from Vizard to graphing software. After analyzing the data it became apparent that subjects kept further away from unfair players than the fair players within the virtual environment. They also found that certain subjects, identified as “high punishers,” spent significantly more time directly in front of the unfair players than the rest, or “low punishers,” did.