Proxemics: the Study of Personal Space

Essay by redhead21High School, 11th gradeA+, November 2008

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We all have an invisible force field around our bodies that we consider our "personal bubbles." The size of our "bubbles" vary depending upon personality and culture, but we all have a need to protect our personal space; and with the world population now above 6 billion, we have less and less personal space to guard. Violation of that bubble may lead to feelings of annoyance or antagonism towards the violator (Atkins, 6).

The most prominent infringement of our personal space is the one who touches us or stands too closely causing most people to avert their eyes and lean or inch away, but violating the bubble isn't limited to haptics (touching). Other senses can cause one to become uncomfortable as well, such as the following: a person in the next booth talking much too loudly on their cell phone, the kid with blaring Ipod earbuds, the man with putrid body odor, or the person across the room holding eye contact for a great expanse of time (Atkins, 12).

In some cultures such as the Mediterranean and Latin America countries, it is considered normal to be very close to one another and touching, as opposed to Americans who prefer plenty of elbow room and would rather not be touched. This can lead to misunderstandings if someone is visiting from another culture such as a foreign exchange student. For example, a person from a culture that promotes closeness may find an American distant or mistrusting, just as the American might consider the other to be intrusive (Atkins, 18).

A resident of San Diego and one of rural Wyoming may have vastly different concepts of what is considered crowded or spacious. It has been proven that constantly being in a crowded setting tends to lead to more anxiety, stress, and...