People's perceptions are often distorted in a way that aligns with their desires and goals. We argue that having a goal to affiliate changes the perception of interpersonal distance in a way that may help to fulfil this affiliation goal. As other people are goal-relevant when having an affiliation goal, we expected that people with affiliation goals would estimate the distance between themselves and another person as smaller than people with no affiliation goals. In two studies, we manipulated affiliation goals by priming participants with affiliation or control words. Our main dependent variable was the estimated interpersonal distance between themselves and the experimenter. Results showed that participants primed with affiliation estimated the interpersonal distance as smaller compared with participants primed with control words. We did not obtain reliable differences between the affiliation and control conditions on other distance and height estimations. Our results suggest that having or not having affiliation goals influences people's perception of the distance between them and other people.
- interpersonal distance