What is personal space?
Personal space was an idea first developed by German born Swedish psychologist David Katz in 1937. It is very often describes as an “emotionally charged bubble of space which surrounds each individual” or alternately “Personal space is the region surrounding a person which they regard as psychologically theirs. Most people value their personal space and feel discomfort, anger, or anxiety when their personal space is encroached.” On the other hand, some research suggests that the personal space bubble is not circular, but elliptical and so we can tolerate people coming closer to us at the side than front or behind.
The 4 stages of a person’s Personal Space
This is a Proxemics Theory, which had been investigated by Edward T Hall in 1959, who describes a person’s personal space to be in 4 layers;
Intimate distance for embracing, touching or whispering
Close phase – less than 6 inches (15 cm)
Far phase – 6 to 18 inches (15 to 46 cm)
The closest distance is generally the domain of those who have an intimate relationship with each other, but also includes situations where the social rules allow contact, for example in a wrestling match (Edward Hall distinguishes between near situations requiring body contact and far distances which require being very close but not in contact (whispering)). This distinction is rather artificial since whether contact occurs will depend on a variety of things such as the social and physical setting.
Personal distance for interactions among good friends or family members Close phase – 1.5 to 2.5 feet (46 to 76 cm)
Far phase – 2.5 to 4 feet (76 to 120 cm)
This zone generally reserved for good friends or intimate partners in a social setting; the near aspect is generally reserved for couples or very close friends, whereas, the far phase is used by acquaintances or simple friends.
Social distance for interactions among acquaintances
Close phase – 4 to 7 feet (1.2 to 2.1 m)
Far phase – 7 to 12 feet (2.1 to 3.7 m)
This is the zone where those who are not acquainted interact or where business transactions occur. The near distance would be used by those being introduced or for informal business transactions whereas the far phase would be reserved for more formal business processes.
Public distance used for public speaking
Close phase – 12 to 25 feet (3.7 to 7.6 m)
Far phase – 25 feet (7.6 m) or more.
It is subdivided into near phase such as the distance between a speaker and an audience, and the far phase being the distance for example between the public and an important public figure.
This is an easy concept to understand; if anybody enters our bubble, then they are invading personal space.
Invading Personal Space
When somebody invades another person’s personal space it can make the person feel anxious, awkward, insecure, vulnerable, annoyed and uncomfortable simply because there is another person standing too close to them and makes them question the intensions of the invader.. The term “invasion” would generally only be used if the person “invading” it has not earned their place in one of the four layers. There are actually many psychological and physical effects that are activated when a person is getting too close to another and they cause people to behave a little different than usual, for example: ● Extreme self awareness – suddenly we forget how to act 'naturally' ● Limited movements and gestures
● Reduced eye contact
● Turning aside or away from the intruder
● We'll usually immediately take a step back.
● Adopting a defensive position – folded arms, less smiles, frowning, tense posture. ● Stopping the conversation entirely.
Factors that influence personal space:
Gender- Males interacting with other males require the largest interpersonal distance, Men are more territorial and aggressive by nature and will keep more distance from other men, but when it comes to women we will usually prefer to get...
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