Crowding and Privacy

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Chapters 7 and 8

When an individual already feels crowded or is in a high density setting… 

Physiological stress & health – Physiological stress rises faster as density increases for those with large interpersonal distance preferences • Shown in high blood pressure & cardiac issues, sweating • High density can precipitate illness due to easier disease transmission • Feeling crowded can cause poor health regardless of density 

Psychological stress & mental health – Issue – high density areas differ in other qualities • More industrialized, different population demographics 

Alcohol use: – People in groups drink more than those alone – Higher household density, more cirrhosis of liver – More students sharing a dorm room, drinking – People in US states with population density, liver cirrhosis – Women in Norway in higher density areas, drinking 

Child development – In many ethnic groups & areas, children in density households:  more endangered – health, psychomotor development, physical & cognitive growth   

Performance – Simple versus complex tasks:

Density seems to worsen performance on complex tasks  Tasks that require physical interaction:  density impairs performance on tasks that require physical interaction – Observers: slower learning but less forgetting with higher density & larger audience size

– Aggression -Increases with higher density, especially for males & longer exposure to high density -Short-term lab studies show density is related to mild aggression -Prisons & crowding – men in long term, high density situations, aggression – but results are inconsistent • social density, fewer resources, aggression?

Social / anti-social behaviour – Dislike & hostility – density, negative social outcomes, especially when density is not desirable -Unhelpfulness - high spatial density, less helpfulness • Studied from preschool through college age • Less consistency with adults – Social withdrawal common in density situations 

Visiting public places: – Relatively high density, people leave sooner, ask fewer questions  Moderating effects of culture: – Fear of crime higher with high density than is actual crime rate – Cultures gradually learn: • age of culture important in developing coping strategies to cope with high density – Cultural strategies for handling high density • Some cultures seem to prefer density, but have control strategies, rules & less expectation of emotional involvement 

Newer cultures learning from older cultures…considerations: 

Coping with high density is better when: – More psychological distance between individuals is encouraged – More times & places for escape are allowed -Restrictions about who can go where in a home & how each space is to be used – Social interaction with acquaintances inside home is discouraged but encouraged in public places – Appreciation for higher levels of social stimulation has been developed

Residences: – Density in primary environments difficult – Dividing up space helps to increase personal control  Wilderness parks – Behavioural zoning to congregate campers with similar values & activities  Prisons –Importance of social density for personal Control 

Related to personal space, territoriality, and crowding – But broader & more complex • Irwin Altman’s definition – “selective control of access to the self or to one’s group” • Management of information about oneself • Management of social interaction • Also involves visual, acoustic privacy 

Involves various sensory avenues of access to self, some communication channels may be open & others closed • People do take advantage of technological means of regulating social interaction 

Comprehensive measure of privacy should: – Include interactional & informational themes – Acknowledge that privacy is sought by pairs & groups as well as individuals – Acknowledge that privacy can vary over communication channels and over time – Recognize that privacy-seeking...
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