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Press Release:
Individuals with autism spectrum disorder maintain shorter interpersonal distances
A comparison of personal space between individuals with and without autism spectrum disorder

  Humans maintain various interpersonal distances with others. Small interpersonal distances show friendliness and closeness, and large interpersonal distances show respectfulness and aversion. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder and is diagnosed by judging whether communicative difficulties occur in daily life. Since maintaining an appropriate interpersonal distance is important for effective communication, individuals on the autism spectrum might show characteristics in their personal space, a region that humans do not want others inside.
  Project Researcher Kosuke Asada, Associate Professor Shinichiro Kumagaya (Tojisha-Kenkyu), Professor Toshikazu Hasegawa (Graduate School of Arts and Sciences) and their research collaborators investigated the interpersonal distances of 12- to 19-year-old individuals with and without ASD. Participants first stood away from a researcher. Then, participants approached the researcher or the researcher approacheed the participants. Participants responded when they felt uncomfortable due to the closeness. The researchers found that individuals with ASD showed reduced interpersonal distances than individuals without ASD. The results suggest that preferred interpersonal distances vary among individuals, and by taking account of the variation of personal space we can establish better communication and social interaction.
This research was conducted by a joint research team of the University of Tokyo, Ibaraki University, and Musashino Higashi Gakuen. The results of this research were published online in the journal PLOS ONE on January 27th, 2016 (EST).

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