Violating Social Norms

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Did you ever feel as though someone was “too close for comfort?” I’m sure we all have. But, how close is too close? The idea of closeness is linked to the idea of personal space and intimacy. The ideas that “close” can get “too close” has been observed and researched by social behavioralists and sociologists for decades. It is an intrinsic human behavior to seek out personal space. Perhaps it is a defense mechanism, perhaps an assertion of territorialism; there are theories to support each idea. However, social behavior does dictate that there is a social norm of personal space. Americans typically have a standard or norm that determines “appropriate” distances from others. Personal space as defined by Anthropologist Edward hall is divided into four different zones- Intimate Distance, Personal Distance, Social Distance and Public Space. (Hall, The Hidden Dimension, 1966) Intimate distance (less than 18 inches) is often reserved for family and very close friends, Personal Distance(arms length to 4 feet) applies to friends and acquaintances, Social Distance (four to 12 feet) refers to formal or impersonal interactions, and Public Space(12 or more feet) indicates space that is not guarded such as in a park or shopping mall. Hall’s...
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