Expectancy Violation Theory
Have you ever felt like someone was violating your personal space? What makes you decide what is too close for comfort? The Expectancy Violation Theory explains how we react to our person space being invaded and how we perceive the violator. We have different opinions of people invading our personal space depending on who the violator is. Would you feel the same way about your boss hugging you as if your friend hugged you? That is what the expectancy violation theory is trying to explain.
We judge if someone is too close to us or invading our personal space by certain criteria such as: age, gender, and ethnicity. The amount of space we put between one another can have an influence of the message and meaning that you or someone else is trying to portray. There are four zones that we consciously use to define the boundaries of which we want people in. There’s the intimate space which is from 0-18 in. This space is reserved for people you feel extremely comfortable around. Next is the personal space which is from 18 in. - 4ft. This space is mostly where you keep friends and family. The further of this space is usually for acquaintances or people such as cashiers. Then there’s your social space which ranges from 4 – 12ft. People that may occupy your social space are fellow employees or people you see in a more formal manner. The last zone is your public space which is from 12ft. and beyond. This zone is for exactly what it’s named for, the public. This is the space for which you keep complete strangers. This is seen as a very formal space. (Turner, 2014, p. 128.)
I think this theory proves true in my everyday life. There are certain people that I feel comfortable enough around to where it doesn’t bother me if they’re in my personal space, but if it were someone that I didn’t know very well then it would feel extremely uncomfortable. There are only certain people that I would feel comfortable enough to be in...
Turner, Lynne H., West, Richard. (2014. Introducing Communication Theory Analysis and Application. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.
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