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Personal Space

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Christine Labuschagne

on 11 April 2014

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Transcript of Personal Space

Evaluate personal space by the means of the value of personal space in the context of interior design; 
Evaluate the aspects of personal space considered during the design and planning of a house and other built spaces by making use of appropriate examples; 
Identify the factors that influence personal space and apply them in the context of interior design space
Critically discuss and evaluate the processes of human behaviour associated with personal space in terms of the latest research situations examined in the literature and by means of studies;
Value of personal space
Dynamic spatial component of interpersonal relations
Changing distance and angle of orientation while individuals interact
Use personal space everyday
Low level of awareness
Factors that influence personal space
The size of personal space depends on influences that fall into four broad categories
Personal space and environmental design
Gifford, R. 2007. Environmental psychology: principles and practice. 4th edition. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. 504p.
2 Kinds of personal space
Personal Space
Robert Sommer: "Personal space refers to an area with invisible boundaries surrounding a person's body into which intruders may not come."
Bubble-like image
Stretches and shrinks with circumstances
Interpersonal: only operates when interact with others
Eye contact - aspect of social interaction
Personal influences
Psychological disturbances and violence
Social influences
Fear and security
Cooperation and competition
Power and status
Physical influences
Cultural, ethnic, religious and legal variations
Personal space and human behaviour
Male-male pairs keep the largest distance than female-female pairs
And then male-female pairs
The reason that genders differ in need for personal space is because different socialization occurs
Study showed girls stay closer to parents when boys and girls played together
Although when only girls play this did not occur
Male-female pair use more space when they are strangers in comparison with a couple
Thus gender is not a powerful determinant of personal space on its own
Personal space increases with age until early adulthood development
Physiologists know some infant like to be hugged other resist physical contact
By age 12 children uses the same personal space as adult
A study measured personal space of males and females aged 5-18
Older children display larger interpersonal distance than younger children (school dance vs. kindergarten)
In younger boys and girls no difference occurs in the size of personal space
Older boys chose larger distance than older girls
Changes through different phases of life
3 Fundamental Elements
Personal, Portable Territory
Personal space is portable
Surrounded on all sides
Unauthorised Intrusion: accident or intentional
Authorised intrusion: someone gives a hug
People who are extroverts: affiliate or interpersonal have smaller personal space zones
People who have high anxiety have been linked to larger personal space
Type A personality; competitive and rushed claim greater personal space
People worried about how they will be viewed by others keep larger distances
Spacing Mechanism
Certain species maintain characteristic distance between individuals
Distance have biological value:
Food gathering
Communication Channel
A way of sending a message
Interpersonal distance informs participants and observers the nature of relationship
4 Main distances
Intimate distance
Other full-contact activities
Personal distance
Familiar with one another
Good friends
Social distance
Interaction between unacquainted individuals
Transacting business
Public distance
Speaker and their audiences
Alpha personal space
Objective, externally measurable distance and angle between interacting individuals
Beta personal space
Subjective experience of distancing process
Individuals sense of distance in social encounters
Considerations of architecture:
local regulations
Personal space not essence of a space
Designers focus on effect of furniture arrangements on social interactions
Studies shown:
Vacant tables are desirably seats
Table occupied, furthest seat from other person
Seats back-to-back
Room 60% full, person goes somewhere else
Most libraries taken into account
Designed space to these requirements
Restaurants and bars
Vary in design
Actual setting choice depends on consumer
Person wishes to be alone - selects stool or table in distant, hunch over and stares into drink
Bars are designed for social interaction
People rarely start conversation over two empty bar stools
Mix types of seating for different consumers
Counseling setting
Counselors clients have difficulty communicating
Seating arrangement important part
Determine success or failure of situation
Chairs - psychologically significant
Design depends on psychologist
Do you think of yourself more as a:
Social interdependent person (choose closer distances)
Personal independent person
How person construct self influences their choice of personal distance
People with emotional problems have an unusual need for space zones
Physiological disturbances involve anxiety and difficulty communicating, need more space
Schizophrenia chose seating distances furthest or smallest
Abused children have large personal space preferences
Institution should keep the need for personal space in mind to accommodate peoples preferences
Few studies done on interpersonal choices made by people with disabilities
Pairs of hearing impaired children used greater distances that children with no hearing disability
Draws us physically closer
Study showed husband and wife sat closer together than pairs of wifes and husbands sat toghter
Emotional displays effects personal space
Women see sadness or happiness on someones face moved closer
Men see happiness on someones face moved closer
Both large distance when fear was seen
Criticism and insults lead to dislike which leads to increased distance
People choose
Close distance when they feel secure
Larger distance when they feel unsafe
The more dangerous people were perceived in a study the more people moved away from person
Disability or other visible stigma lead to greater distancing by others
In a study respondent:
Stood closer to well groomed older female
Stood further from scruffy younger man
Competitive situations participants chose more direct orientation, face to face (bosses' office)
Naturalistic settings, customs and physical layouts of places will alter tenancies
Fancy restaurant couple sit face to face
Bar with friend waiting for ideal women sits next to each other still competitive by adapt to environment
Others we perceive to be higher or lower status are granted or banished greater distance
Study indicated student sat closer to other student and and father away from lecturers (higher status)
Higher position in company higher floor level
Personal space is influenced by physical setting and context of the interaction
Close distance more uncomfortable when lighting is dim, adequate lighting in office increased comfort
Smaller distances preferred in wide and narrow rooms
Use physical setting to improve personal space in office by using correct furniture placing and adequate lighting
Workers who work in isolation need more space than workers who have constant socialisation
Negative attributes are given to those who interact with us at an inappropriate distance , this has contributed to negative cultural stereotypes
4 Male students: 2 American and 2 Arabian were observed, Arabian students needed one arm length space and Americans needed much more
Cultures are described as contact or non contact, controversial other influences
Language is important part of culture, can modify tendencies to use more or less interpersonal space
Religion is related to personal space
Legal means, court order to keep distance
Flight and effect
Space invaded burst of emotion occurs, even if invasion is excusable e.g elevators negative emotions still surfaces
When person sits down in personal space find reason to leave earlier than intended
2% asked to move or leave
Status of invader:
Student moved faster when faculty member was invader
low status person sat next to women in mall women move quickly men did not
Appropriate use of space leads to approving and inappropriate use of space to disliking
What is appropriate:
Different for people
Men tolerate more invasion by women, women do not tolerate invasion by men
Inappropriate close interpersonal distance seen as invasion
Lavatory experiment
Social influence
You can influence someone by adjusting your interpersonal distance
Changes in listeners attitudes occurred when a speakers voice was heard from different distances, further away lead to speaker having increased influence
Attribution and impression formation
Social situation where person was given a set characteristics before meeting person, warm and friendly and unfriendly
People stood closer to person who was described as friendly
Observers will form impressions, people who hold hand and hug will be consider in love (couple)
Helping others
Interpersonal distances affect the desire to help others
Person who interpersonal space was invaded will be reluctant to offer help to invader
Conflicting results
Person looked strange received less help
Working in small groups
In a study groups of 4 men and women were asked to cooperate with each other or to compete as individual at small or large distances
Task to solve complex maze
When competing with each other, performances where better at large distances than smaller distances
When asked to cooperate smaller distances lead to better performances (design of office to accommodated group activities)
Cooperation and increased performance occurs when group members are made aware of each other
face-to dace or very close
Bell, P.A. 2001. Environmental psychology. 5th edition. TX: Harcourt College. 634p.
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