Accompanying Materials 8 tape measures 1 box of chalk 1 set of yellow cue cards Contents may be subject to change depending upon availability. Items of equivalent value may be substituted where necessary. Accompanying Materials
Personal Space Did you know that the first person to actually talk about personal space was a German born Swedish psychologist called David Katz in 1937? But what exactly is personal space? What do you think is YOUR personal space? Katz, D. (1937) Animals and Men. New York: Longmans, Green.
Definition of Personal Space – Bell (1996) Definition of Personal Space According to Bell et al (1996), personal space is a … … portable, invisible boundary surrounding us, into which others may not trespass. It regulates how closely we interact with others, moves with us, and expands and contracts according to the situation in which we find ourselves. It is often described as being almost circular but with more space in front than behind. Bell, P.A., Greene, T.C., Fisher, J.D. & Baum, A. (1996) Environmental Psychology (4 th Ed.) Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace.
Diagram of Personal Space Is this what your personal space looks like?
Your Personal Space Think about your own personal space. Does it depend who you are with as to how close you stand? Why? What happens if you are standing very close to a stranger when there is a common focal point – for example, watching a band at a concert or supporting a team at a sporting event?
Cartoon How many times do I have to tell you? Youre crowding me!
Edward T Hall Proxemic Theory (1959) Edward T Hall – Proxemic Theory According to the anthropologist Edward T Hall in 1959, personal space can be defined as an … … emotionally charged bubble of space which surrounds each individual. The idea of an invisible bubble around us all of the time is an easy concept to understand. If anyone enters our bubble, then they are invading our personal space. Hall, E.T. (1959) The Silent Language. New York: Doubleday.
Halls Four Distances of Personal Space Hall identified four zones (or distances) of personal space: touching up to 0.5 mintimate distance 0.5 m to 1.2 mpersonal / casual distance 1.2 m to 4 msocial distance over 4 mpublicdistance 1.2 m is the absolute minimum public distance for strangers. 3 m or 4 m is the maximum spacing for members within the same group.
Halls Four Distances of Personal Space (2) Intimate distance is the space around us that we keep for partners, children, close family members and friends. Personal distance is the space around us when we are talking to friends and acquaintances or when we are in a group. Social distance is the space around us that we reserve for strangers, new friends and newly formed groups. Public distance is the space around us when we are part of a larger audience.
Personal Space Exercise Part 1 Personal Space Exercise Get into groups of 3 – students X, Y and Z. Find a space in the room and X stands in the middle of it. Y approaches X from in front and stops as soon as X says they would feel uncomfortable if Y remained there for any length of time. Z uses the tape measure to measure the distance between X and Y and notes down the measurement in the table (In Front). Part 1 – Find your Personal Bubble: Equipment needed – tape measure, chalk, blank table of results (slide 15) and pen.
Part 1 continued X must remain facing forward and not turn to look at Y as Y approaches X from behind. Y stops as soon as X says they would feel uncomfortable if Y remained there for any length of time. Repeat this procedure with Y approaching X from the left and from the right. Record the measurements in the table. Using the measurements in the table, the chalk can be used to draw a personal bubble around X. Repeat this exercise until X, Y and Z have all got their own personal bubble. Z once again measures the distance between X and Y and notes it down in the table (Behind).
Table of Results Table of Results: Approach from: Distance (in metres) In Front Behind Left Right Name: …………………………………
Part 2 Use your Table of Results from Part 1. On a piece of paper draw your own personal space shape. Label it to show any interesting things, such as needing more personal space in a particular direction. Part 2 – Draw your own Personal Bubble: Compare your diagram with others in your class. Are there any clear differences between people? What about gender differences between males and females?
Personal Space Cue Cards Activity Get into groups of between 4 and 6. Using the yellow cue cards discuss each scenario and how it affects your personal space.
Personal Space Experiments Many important studies have been carried out into personal space, examining the effects of the following variables: When experimenters are carrying out research they often have people working with them, known as confederates. The people who are subjects in their experiments dont know until afterwards that these confederates are part of the experiment. sex age culture status.
Felipe & Sommer 1966 Experiment 1 (1) Experiment 1 - Aim: To examine the effects of the invasion of personal space. Procedure: Research was carried out in a public library amongst people of similar cultural backgrounds who were sitting alone. These people were split into two groups: 1.Those where the confederate approached them, sat in the chair next to them and moved the chair closer to them. 2.Those where the confederate approached them and sat in the next-but-one chair. Felipe & Sommer 1966: Experiment 1
Experiment 1 (2) Findings: When someone came and sat in the chair next to them and moved the chair closer to them, 70% of the lone people left within half-an-hour. When someone came and sat in the next-but-one chair only 13% of the lone people left within half-an-hour. Conclusion: People found this invasion of their personal space disruptive. Researchers also noted that those whose personal space had been invaded moved their chair, put barriers up such as books and changed their body position to move away.
Felipe & Sommer 1966 Experiment 2 (1) Experiment 2 - Aim: To examine the effects of the invasion of personal space. Procedure: If a man was sitting alone on a bench in the grounds of a mental institution then a confederate went and sat down very close to him. If the man moved along the bench thisinvader did the same. The length of time before the man left the bench was noted. Felipe & Sommer 1966: Experiment 2
Experiment 2 (2) Findings: Researchers found that 20% of men left within a minute compared to no-one moving from a control group of men sitting alone on a bench. 50% of the men left within 9 minutes of having their personal space invaded, compared to only 8% of the control group moving within 9 minutes. Conclusion: People were unhappy to have their personal space invaded. Felipe, N.J. & Sommer, R. Invasions of Personal Space, Social Problems, 14 (1966), 206-214.
Argyle and Dean 1965 AQA KEY STUDY Aim: To examine whether sex differences have an effect on personal space. Procedure: Participants were invited to have a one-to-one conversation with a confederate. Some participants talked to confederates of the same sex; others talked to confederates of a different sex. In both situations the confederate varied the distance away from the participant but continually maintained eye contact. Argyle and Dean 1965
Argyle and Dean 1965 (2) Findings: Argyle, M. & Dean, J. Eye contact, distance and affiliation. Sociometry, 1965, 28: 289-304. The participants broke eye contact with the confederate of the opposite sex when they were further away than with the confederate of the same sex. Conclusion: When talking to someone of the opposite sex people prefer to have more personal space between them. Consider: What are the implications of this in the workplace?
Fisher and Byrne 1975 (1) Aim: To examine the difference between personal space for men and for women. Procedure: Male and female participants in the experiment were sat alone in a library when a confederate approached and either sat next to or opposite the participant. After several minutes the confederate left. Participants were then asked for their impression of the confederate. Fisher and Byrne 1975
Fisher and Byrne 1975 (2) Findings: Females were unhappy to have the confederate sat next to them but didnt mind the confederate sat opposite. Males were unhappy to have the confederate sat opposite them but didnt mind the confederate sat next to them. Conclusion: There are clear differences between male and female personal space. Consider: These results have implications for many aspects of day-to-day life. Can you think of any such implications? Fisher, J. & Byrne, D. (1975) Too close for comfort: sex differences in response to invasions of personal space. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 32(1), 15-21.
Willis 1996 AQA KEY STUDY Aim: To examine the effect of age differences on personal space. Procedure: Nearly 800 individuals were observed in a variety of social situations. Willis 1996
Willis 1996 (2) Findings: In general, people tended to stand closer to people of their own age but stood further away from people who were either a lot older or a lot younger. Conclusion: Age difference does have an effect on peoples personal space. Consider: Can you think of any situations where these findings might be significant? Willis, F. Initial speaking distance as a function of the speakers relationship. Psychonomic Science, 1996, 5, 221- 222.
Sommer 1969 AQA KEY STUDY Aim: To examine whether there are cultural differences in the use of personal space. Procedure: Researchers observed groups of Arab people and groups of white English people in conversation. Sommer 1969
Sommer 1969 (2) Findings: The comfortable distance for conversation for Arab people was under 1 m, whereas for white English people the comfortable distance was between 1 m and 1.5 m. Conclusion: Different cultures are comfortable with different amounts of personal space. Consider: This research was carried out in 1969; do you think the results are still valid. Sommer, R. (1969) Personal space: The behavioural basis of design. Englecliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall Inc.
Zahn 1991 AQA KEY STUDY Aim: To examine the effects of status on personal space. Procedure: Researchers observed the interaction between office workers: people of equal status approaching each other to have a conversation and people of unequal status doing the same. Zahn 1991
Zahn 1991 (2) Findings: People of lower status did not have the same closeness of interaction with people of higher status that they did with people of the same status. Conclusion: Status does have an effect on personal space when approaching another person. Zahn, G.L. (1991) Face-to-Face Communication in an Office Setting: The Effects of Position, Proximity and Exposure, Communication Research, 18(6), 737-754.
Practical Implications of Research (1) If people of equal status have a tendency to get nearer to each other than people of unequal status then what happens when two people are of unequal status, like a teacher and a pupil? The pupil (lower status) allows the teacher (higher status) to approach quite closely, but it is unusual for a pupil to approach a teacher with the same degree of closeness. Think about how, when the class enters the room, the pupils all try to sit at the back – further away from the teacher! Consider the following:
Practical Implications of Research (2) Were those who unwittingly participated in experiments deceived? Could the innate personality of the confederates used in some of the research studies have influenced the outcome of the experiments? Were these people (subjects) debriefed afterwards? Did these people give their consent to take part in the research? Consider the ethics of some of the experiments carried out:
Worksheet on Personal Space 1.Write your own definition of personal space. 2.Think about an occasion when your personal space has been invaded. How did it make you feel? 3.Are there any situations where you would feel comfortable for people to be within your personal space? 4.Is there any difference between the personal space of males and females? Give an example of, and further details about, a relevant study. 5.Do cultural differences exist in defining personal space? Name a study on cultural differences in personal space and give a brief overview of this study. 6.What effect does status have on personal space? Give an example of a study looking at this and state the findings. 7.Name a research study that has looked at individual differences in personal space and state the methodology, findings and conclusions.