Personal Space: Norm Breaking

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As human beings, we have set rules engrained into our minds called customs. Many of these vary from culture to culture but some are quite universal. One of those very universal rules, though the degree still varies, is the idea of personal space. In America, we have a strong sense of personal space, especially when it comes to strangers. In this experiment, I challenged this custom by invading the personal space of a couple strangers I encountered in my day to day life. I also tried the opposite and denied some close friends the attention and physical contact that usually entails our greetings. This paper describes my findings from this test.

I first tried my space invasion on a girl I met at the Interpol concert at the Hard Rock Live in Orlando, Florida. It is very common at concerts to be standing quite close to other people, even touching other people for most of the show but there is still a sense of boundary and personal space. When I first walked in to the show, I bought an eight dollar beer and went to find a good spot to stand. I stood beside a girl who was standing by herself and looked to be waiting for someone. I started up a conversation about who was opening for Interpol and the talk was actually going quite well but then I started testing her space. I moved closer as I was talking and she first just took a step back. She didn’t seem wary or concerned at that point, she was just establishing her space again. So then I turned as though I was looking for someone and slid closer again. Again, she moved slightly away and then she started looking around, probably wondering when her friends were going to get there. I tried to start up some talking again while moving too close and at that point she turned on me. She had a new look in her eyes and she was showing signs of being a bit turned off. She responded very shortly and then scurried off to find a new spot to stand. I decided that was an experiment accomplished and just enjoyed the...
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