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Symbolic Interactionism: Personal Space

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Marisa Risbara

on 8 May 2014

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Transcript of Symbolic Interactionism: Personal Space

Personal Space in North America
_Without knowing it, Americans use four different "distance zones"
Social Structure and Social Interaction
By: Marisa Risbara
Social Interaction: A look Into Personal Space
What is Personal Space?
Personal Space is defined as the sense of invisible boundaries around an individual body, separating one from others.
Culturally determined
1. Intimate Distance:
18 inches from our bodies.

This space is for love making, comforting, protecting, wrestling, hugging, and intimate touching.
2. Personal Distance:
Extends 18 inches to 4 feet. This distance is for friends, acquaintances and regular conversations.
3. Social Distance:
About 4 to 12 feet. This zone is used for job interviews.
4. Public Distance:
Goes beyond 12 feet.

Used to separate public speakers from the public.

In Italy, it is common to see people walking holding hands or having their arms linked together in public. This behavior is usually seen during evening strolls. An Italian's personal space is smaller than an Americans. It is common for Italians to have a conversation that is much closer than what we are used to.

Personal Space in Italy

For Italians, non-verbal communication is extremely important. Italians have very little concept of personal space. They tend to stand close to you when talking. The Italians are known for using more physical contact during conversations than most other Europeans. It is common for friends and acquaintances, men and women to give a kiss on both cheeks when greeting each other.

In general, America is considered to be a low touch country.
In different regions of the U.S, there are certain variances regarding touch.
- New Englanders:
Very low touching rate
who have a strong root from German and Scandinavian cultures are relatively controlled in their touch behaviors.
Of a Latino heritage, touch often
- Californians:
Have a diverse population. A heritage linked to the Far Eastern cultures engage in less touching then other ethnic groups


In conclusion, touch and personal space is important to all cultures. There are many different meanings around the world for the action of touching. Some countries have a high touching rate while others are extremely low.
Edward Hall

Edward Hall coined a term called proxemics. It is also known as
the study of the distance between people as they interact.
When researching, Hall found that people’s body language,
posture, and need for personal space changed depending on
different circumstances.
Full transcript