Previous research revealed inconsistent findings regarding affective responses when facing someone in pain (i.e., empathic concern and/or personal distress). In this paper, we suggest that the degree of closeness between the observer and the person in pain may account for these contradictory results, such that greater closeness towards this person leads to higher personal distress. To test this hypothesis, we induced either low or high closeness with a confederate in 69 randomly assigned participants. Following the closeness induction, participants evaluated their affective responses (empathic concern and personal distress) and rated the confederate's pain intensity after watching the confederate undergoing a painful cold pressure task. Results showed that, despite the non-significant effect of closeness induction, closeness across both conditions (low and high) was positively correlated with pain intensity rating, empathic concern and personal distress. This study thus suggests that closeness is associated with higher cognitive and affective responses to a person in pain. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.