The Influence of Biological Sex Sexuality and Gender

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 193
  • Published : March 31, 2011
Open Document
Text Preview
Copyright © The British Psychological Society
Reproduction in any form (including the internet) is prohibited without prior permission from the Society

579

British Journal of Social Psychology (2006), 45, 579–597 q 2006 The British Psychological Society

The British Psychological Society
www.bpsjournals.co.uk

The influence of biological sex, sexuality and gender role on interpersonal distance David Uzzell1* and Nathalie Horne2
1 2

Department of Psychology, University of Surrey, UK Research Development Centre, Greenwich, Lambeth, Lewisham & Southwark PCTs, London, UK This research reports on a conceptually and methodologically innovative study, which sought to measure the influence of gender on interpersonal distance. In so doing, we argue for an important distinction to be made between biological sex, gender role, and sexuality. To date, however, progress in the study of interpersonal distance (IPD) has been inhibited by poor operational definitions and inadequate measurement methodologies. For our own investigation, we innovated on methodology by devising the digital video-recording IPD method (DiVRID) that records interpersonal spatial relationships using high quality digital video equipment. The findings highlighted not only the validity of our innovative method of investigation, but also that a more sophisticated conceptualization of the impact of gender on IPD is warranted than can be accounted for by biological sex differences. In this study, we found that gender role accounts for more of the variation in IPD than the conventionally reported gender variable, sex.

Of more than 1,200 papers on personal space between 1964 and 2003 recorded in the PsycInfo database, two-thirds (67.6%) were published before 1983. Since that date, there has been a marked decline in published studies and presumably research (1964 to 1973: 95; 1974 to 1983: 725; 1984 to 1993: 211; 1994 to 2003: 182). Such a decline cannot be attributable to a lessening relevance of the research or its findings. The importance of the socio-environmental context and contingencies that affect social interaction means that the study of personal space is highly relevant to our understanding of processes in social psychology (e.g. personal attraction, prejudice). Current concern with quality of life, housing standards, and working conditions also raises questions concerning the degree and quality of personal space available to individuals and groups. Why then the decrease in research interest in interpersonal space? We believe that after several decades of studies there was a gradual realization that research on personal space suffered from two principal shortcomings. First, and most fundamental to the

* Correspondence should be addressed to Professor David Uzzell, Department of Psychology, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 7XH, UK (e-mail: d.uzzell@surrey.ac.uk). DOI:10.1348/014466605X58384

Copyright © The British Psychological Society
Reproduction in any form (including the internet) is prohibited without prior permission from the Society

580 David Uzzell and Nathalie Horne

conclusions and inferences we draw, are weaknesses in the methodologies employed to measure interpersonal distance. Charges can be made on ecological grounds (i.e. differences obtained in controlled laboratory settings are not a reflection of real life differences) and on grounds of unreliability or inaccuracy. Second one of the principal factors investigated to identify individual and intergroup differences in the use of personal space was gender. Research sought to show that there were significant gender differences in interpersonal distance (IPD) behaviour. The theoretical formulation and operationalization of gender differences, however, has been poor. In particular, changes in the definition and interpretation of gender over the last decade invite us to revisit and question assumptions that were taken for granted in the early years of research on...
tracking img