COVID-19 and Social Distancing: A Cross-Cultural Study of Interpersonal Distance Preferences and Touch Behaviors Before and During the Pandemic

Ilona Croy, Carina Heller, Grace Akello, Afifa Anjum, Chiemezie Atama, Andreja Avsec, Boris Bizumic, Ricardo Borges Rodrigues, Mahmoud Boussena, Marina Butovskaya, Seda Can, Hakan Cetinkaya, Jorge Contreras-Garduño, Rui Costa Lopes, Marcin Czub, Slavka Demuthova, Daria Dronova, Seda Dural, Oliver Ifeanyi Eya, Mokadem FatmaTomasz Frackowiak, Farida Guemaz, Ivana Hromatko, Konstantinos Kafetsios, Tina Kavčič, Imran Khilji, Magdalena Kruk, Cătălin Lazăr, Torun Lindholm, Amanda Londero-Santos, Conal Monaghan, Anam Shahid, Bojan Musil, Jean Carlos Natividade, Elisabeth Oberzaucher, Anna Oleszkiewicz, Ike E. Onyishi, Charity Onyishi, Ariela F. Pagani, Miriam Parise, Katarzyna Pisanski, Nejc Plohl, Camelia Popa, Pavol Prokop, Muhammad Rizwan, Mario Sainz, Rūta Sargautytė, Shivantika Sharad, Jaroslava Valentova, Marco Varella, Belkacem Yakhlef, Gyesook Yoo, Gaja Zager Kocjan, Maja Zupančič, Agnieszka Sorokowska

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaArticolo in rivista


The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the introduction of unprecedented safety measures, one of them being physical distancing recommendations. Here, we assessed whether the pandemic has led to long-term effects on two important physical distancing aspects, namely interpersonal distance preferences and interpersonal touch behaviors. We analyzed nearly 14,000 individual cases from two large, cross-cultural surveys - the first conducted 2 years prior to the pandemic and the second during a relatively stable period of a decreased infection rate in May-June 2021. Preferred interpersonal distances increased by 54% globally during the COVID-19 pandemic. This increase was observable across all types of relationships, all countries, and was more pronounced in individuals with higher self-reported vulnerability to diseases. Unexpectedly, participants reported a higher incidence of interpersonal touch behaviors during than before the pandemic. We discuss our results in the context of prosocial and self-protection motivations that potentially promote different social behaviors.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)41-69
Numero di pagine29
RivistaCross-Cultural Research
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2024


  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • cross-cultural psychology
  • interpersonal distance preferences
  • interpersonal touch behaviors
  • nonverbal communication


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