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Social Contact Enhances Bodily Self-Awareness

Abstract : Human self-awareness is arguably the most important and revealing question of modern sciences. Converging theoretical perspectives link self-awareness and social abilities in human beings. In particular, mutual engagement during social interactions—or social contact—would boost self-awareness. Yet, empirical evidence for this effect is scarce. We recently showed that the perception of eye contact induces enhanced bodily self-awareness. Here, we aimed at extending these findings by testing the influence of social contact in auditory and tactile modalities, in order to demonstrate that social contact enhances bodily self-awareness irrespective of sensory modality. In a first experiment, participants were exposed to hearing their own first name (as compared to another unfamiliar name and noise). In a second experiment, human touch (as compared to brush touch and no-touch) was used as the social contact cue. In both experiments, participants demonstrated more accurate rating of their bodily reactions in response to emotional pictures following the social contact condition—a proxy of bodily self-awareness. Further analyses indicated that the effect of social contact was comparable across tactile, auditory and visual modalities. These results provide the first direct empirical evidence in support of the essential social nature of human self-awareness.
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Submitted on : Friday, March 16, 2018 - 12:24:52 PM
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Nesrine Hazem, Morgan Beaurenaut, Nathalie George, Laurence Conty. Social Contact Enhances Bodily Self-Awareness. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2018, 8, pp.4195. ⟨10.1038/s41598-018-22497-1⟩. ⟨hal-01735756⟩

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