The Spatial and Temporal Underpinnings of Social Distance

Justin L Matthews, Teenie Matlock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To what extent do people anchor thoughts about social relationships in terms of space and time? Three studies used drawing and estimation tasks to further explore the conceptual structure of “social” distance. In the three studies, participants read short narratives, drew what they imagined happening during the narrative, then estimated both time and distance. In general, results suggest that the conceptual structure of social relationships is linked to thought about space in terms of path drawing and temporal estimation, but not absolute distance estimation. Results are discussed in terms of mental simulation and inter-character interaction.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalSpatial Cognition VII
StatePublished - 2010


  • distance estimation
  • drawing
  • mental simulation
  • spatial reasoning
  • temporal judgments


  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Social Psychology

Cite this