Field that studies mans need for personal space
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Personal space in Finland: Is everything you’ve heard true?
Twenty plus years ago Henley stated that in interactions between people, proper distance, control of physical space, and mobility are ostensibly under the control of the person viewed as the most powerful.
This finding is historically substantiated in the accounts of many scholars of nonverbal communication e. Consequently, persons of high status are "invaded" less frequently when interacting with persons of low status. To this end, the theory infers that males are afforded more space and are approached less frequently than the lower "status" female.
The corollary to this concept is that female involvement in male domains is limited Leffler et al. Similarly, Henley argues how proxemics work to establish male dominance and female submission. As Henley shows: 1 pronounced gender differences exist in the nonverbal behaviors of males and females; 2 males have more and better territory; 3 males encroach frequently on a female's space; 4 males maintain boundaries that prohibit female participation; 5 males enjoy differentiated access to social and economic resources based on ascription, as opposed to achievement; and 6 this phenomenon is manifested in a wide range of nonverbal behaviors.
Henley writes: "Not only women's territory and personal space, but their very bodily demeanor must be restrained and restricted spatially.
Their femininity is gauged, in fact, by how little space they take up, while men's masculinity is judged by their expansiveness and the strength of their flamboyant gestures" , p.
This unequal power distribution is reflected in the distances males and females maintain when they approach one another. Knapp and Hall state, "The research shows convincingly that people approach females closer than they approach males, and that this remains true no matter what type of methodology is used" , p.
Men invade and violate women's space as a matter of course Henley Henley contends that spatial displacement reflects human power relationships, with the man being dominant over the woman. This contention is based on the assumption that males "invade" females' personal space at a closer distance than females approach males. A year earlier, Buchanan, Juhnke and Goldman found that males, when forced to intrude upon the space of either a male or a female in an elevator, more often intruded upon the female's space.
This phenomenon is not limited to adult male and female interaction. In , two scholars, Daphney Spain and Leslie Weisman, indicated how the use of space designates less status for females in the United States.
They further contend that this inchoation begins at an early age and continues through adulthood. Furthermore, academic nonverbal texts used over the last two decades e. Clearly, the nonverbal behaviors of males and females have been examined from numerous perspectives crossing years of research.
To date, studies on gender proxemics has yet to substantially refute neither the original contentions of Hall nor the parameters stated by Henley.
However, the intent of this study is not to refute, replicate or methodologically analyze other nonverbal research. The current study takes a more exploratory perspective, one that examines similarities or differences in female and male nonverbal communication in comparison to theoretical positions cited in this review. Based on the previous findings and expectations involving male and female proxemics, the current study set out to identify how gender proxemic activities are currently utilized in a public setting.
Specifically, the purpose of this study is a to identify gender differences as they relate to spatial usage e. H1: More male and female participants will approach a female assistant when given a choice between a female and male assistant.
H2: More male and female participants will approach a female assistant at a closer distance than a male assistant. This study constructed a field experiment to test the validity of hypotheses H1 and H2. To test these hypotheses it was necessary to create a situation in which male and female confederates would be in a position from which other males and females would have a natural rationale for approaching. To create this scenario, careful consideration was given to make the opportunity for participant manipulation as unobtrusive as possible.
To this end, an active health care facility in a medium-size southeastern city was selected for the field experiment. Top administrators in the organization were preparing to conduct a general survey on physical building appearance and gave permission to have students from a local university hand out questionnaires.
Administrators also granted permission for the observations in the current study to be conducted since it in no way interfered with visitors or the health care survey. Surveys were distributed during a four-hour period of time covering three consecutive days. The experiment enlisted the aid of a team consisting of two male and two female confederates. Physically, these confederates were chosen for their similarities in terms of height, weight, age, and race. Additionally, each person wore the same color top and bottom i.
Each of the confederates where instructed to: 1 hand out the surveys without any additional interaction with survey respondents surveys were self explanatory and no additional instructions were required for participants ; 2 not to engage in any overt facial expressions e. Upon moving through the main entrance of the hospital potential survey respondents were approached by a hospital employee asking them if they would mind filling out a survey on the physical aspects of the building.
Those who agreed to participate were directed through a door to an adjoining room close to the main hospital entrance. Upon entering the room participants were directed by another hospital employee to the front of the room, where four research assistants two males, two females were positioned equal distance from the entrance to hand out the surveys.
During a three day period people filled out surveys females and males. Participants were free to choose which assistant to approach; no directions or suggestions were employed.
Participants did not have to make a hasty decision based on time constraints, convenience, or availability of a research assistant. Research assistants were positioned side by side, affording equal access.
A measurement grid was laid out in front of both research assistants. Participants were unaware of the grid, which measured distance from the research assistant to the participant at intervals of 6 inches, 12 inches, 18 inches, and 24 inches 24 inches being the maximum distance one could stand away from an assistant and comfortably receive a questionnaire.
Based on previous literature, it was expected that more participants would approach the female assistant closer and more often than the male assistant. This study, in fact, found the opposite. Each of the two hypotheses predicted that the space surrounding a female would be invaded more often and at a closer distance than that of a male.
A Chi Square method of analysis was used to test each hypothesis. H1: It is hypothesized that more male and female participants will approach a female assistant when given a choice between a female and male assistant. The first hypothesis predicted that when given the choice of accepting a survey instrument from either a male or a female assistant all participants regardless of gender will approach the female assistant more often than the male assistant.
Two hundred and ninety two of the participants approached the male research assistants and participants approached the female assistants. Contradictory to reported research findings, the females chose to approach the male research assistants more often than the female research assistants. Two hundred and six female participants approached the male assistants while females approached the female assistants.
Males, however, did not display a preference. Seventy seven 77 males approached the female assistants and 86 males approached the male assistants see Table 1. H2: It is hypothesized that more male and female participants will approach a female assistant at a closer distance than a male assistant. The second hypothesis predicted that given the choice of accepting a survey instrument from either a male or a female assistant all respondents regardless of gender will approach the female assistant at a closer distance than the male assistant.
The most surprising finding was the use of distance. Females approached the male assistant much closer than they approached the female. Ninety six 96 females stood within six inches of the male assistants and 71 females approached within 12 inches of the male assistants. Females waited in line 12 times to go to the male assistants rather than the go to the female assistants, who were not occupied at the time.
Additionally, the females chose to stand farther from the female than the male--almost twice as many stood at least 18 inches or more from the female than the male see Table One. While the results of this study are mixed, they do provide insights that dispel the notion of the dominant male spatial status and female vulnerability invasion. This study began with the assertion i. Instead of the prediction that the female assistants would be approached more often than the male assistants despite gender this study found a difference in the opposite direction H1.
The males were approached significantly more often than the females. Additionally, Henley argued that men encroach frequently on a female's space, while the "submissive" female is reluctant to "violate" a male's personal space. It was maintained that the unequal power distribution among men and women would manifest itself in their proxemic behaviors such as the use of distance. This was further supported by Knapp and Hall's assertion that people approach females closer than they approach males, regardless of the methodology used to measure distance.
Therefore, there was a high confidence level that women would be spatially invaded more frequently than men. Again, the opposite was found, and in fact females approached the male assistants significantly closer than they approached the female assistants H2.
Overall, the findings of this study are important because the results do not support the original contentions that people will approach a female more often than a male, and furthermore that they will approach a female at a closer distance than a male.
If anything the findings support the notion that some variables other than gender are perhaps more reliable predictors of interpersonal distance. Females do not appear to be "violated" more than males simply because of gender.
The findings lend credence to those studies which insist that a wide range of variables other than gender account for the distances men and women establish when they approach one another.
Other situational dimensions such as environment, communication content, and task, for example, may have a clearer, more consistent effect on interpersonal distance. In the case of this study several situational factors may have influenced the outcomes. First, by their very nature hospitals are institutions where care and healing are prominent. People entering for care and working for employees a hospital may expect a higher level of tactile communication and closeness physical and spiritual between strangers and health care personnel.
Finally, since the intent of the study was to collect data in the least obtrusive manner, there were no pre- or post-subject interviews concerning their notion of distance or gender approach which may have provided a more complete interpretation. Clearly, further research is necessary in interpersonal distance and gender. The findings reflect a small but worthy addition to theory-building concerning this topic. While this study did not find interpersonal distance strongly linked to gender, past studies concede that observable gender differences certainly exist in interpersonal relationships, and that measures of distance are invaluable in helping us understand the essential nature of communication between women and men in contemporary society.
These results encourage a more penetrating and thorough analysis of gender roles and distance. Buchanan, D. Eye contact, sex, and the violation of personal space. Journal of Social Psychology Ellyson, S. Power, dominance, and nonverbal behavior: Basic concepts and issues. Dovidio Eds. New York: Springer-Verlag. Fehr, B. Social visual interaction: A conceptual and literature review. Feldstein Eds. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. Hall, J.
Section 2: Human Perception and Environmental Experience
On Wednesday, the former vice president and potential presidential candidate Joe Biden released a video in which he discussed the importance of personal space. Biden was responding to allegations by two women that he made them uncomfortable by coming too close, and by being too familiar and hands-on. His video was, in part, an acknowledgment that the rules of social engagement can change over time — along with perceptions of how much physical contact is appropriate, and where the boundaries of personal space lie. The dynamics of both social space and touching have been well explored by scientists. In the s, American anthropologist Edward Hall laid out the basics of social space , based on field work in Europe, Asia and elsewhere.
Personal space is a universal human experience. No matter where we are from, we all have our comfort zones, and having our space invaded by another individual can lead to strong feelings of anger, unease and irritability. Personal space is usually defined as the region surrounding a person which they regard as psychologically theirs. However, the size of those comfort zones are incredible variable, and change depending on the scenario, the people we are interacting with and our background experiences. What determines this personal space, and when we consider it invaded?
Beyond Biden: How Close Is Too Close?
Twenty plus years ago Henley stated that in interactions between people, proper distance, control of physical space, and mobility are ostensibly under the control of the person viewed as the most powerful. This finding is historically substantiated in the accounts of many scholars of nonverbal communication e. Consequently, persons of high status are "invaded" less frequently when interacting with persons of low status. To this end, the theory infers that males are afforded more space and are approached less frequently than the lower "status" female. The corollary to this concept is that female involvement in male domains is limited Leffler et al. Similarly, Henley argues how proxemics work to establish male dominance and female submission. As Henley shows: 1 pronounced gender differences exist in the nonverbal behaviors of males and females; 2 males have more and better territory; 3 males encroach frequently on a female's space; 4 males maintain boundaries that prohibit female participation; 5 males enjoy differentiated access to social and economic resources based on ascription, as opposed to achievement; and 6 this phenomenon is manifested in a wide range of nonverbal behaviors. Henley writes: "Not only women's territory and personal space, but their very bodily demeanor must be restrained and restricted spatially. Their femininity is gauged, in fact, by how little space they take up, while men's masculinity is judged by their expansiveness and the strength of their flamboyant gestures" , p.
All rights reserved. Discover how your brain determines what you see. Meet the artist whose amnesia taught scientists about the brain. The news is full of stories of men inappropriately touching women or invading their personal space.
As we all are now distancing ourselves from others, we thought it might be a good time to talk about personal space in Finland. Personal space is the invisible bubble we all have around us. Its limits are fluid and difficult to determine.
Violations of personal space are associated with discomfort. However, the exact function linking the magnitude of discomfort to interpersonal distance has not yet been specified. In this study, we explore whether interpersonal distance and discomfort are isotropic with respect to uncomfortably far or close distances.
Proxemics is the study of human use of space and the effects that population density has on behaviour, communication, and social interaction. Proxemics is one among several subcategories in the study of nonverbal communication , including haptics touch , kinesics body movement , vocalics paralanguage , and chronemics structure of time. Edward T. Hall , the cultural anthropologist who coined the term in , defined proxemics as "the interrelated observations and theories of humans use of space as a specialized elaboration of culture". According to Hall, the study of proxemics is valuable in evaluating not only the way people interact with others in daily life, but also "the organization of space in [their] houses and buildings, and ultimately the layout of [their] towns".
Perception describes the multiple ways in which people receive information from their surroundings, allowing them to know their environment. Cognition , or the way people understand the environment, occurs through immediate sensory experience coupled with memories and experiences from the past. While psychologists often treat these as different phenomena or faculties, the papers in this section challenge that bifurcation. Psychological studies of perception and cognition look at how we organize, identify, and interpret information through our senses. Other experiments, including projects by artists and designers, have shed light on how we attach meaning to particular places and spaces. Ecological psychology and other interdisciplinary research has demonstrated that human beings and their environments are produced in relation with one another. In this way, knowledge and experience are situated in the interplay between person and environment.
Michael S. His recent research has focused on transnational change. He has been at the forefront of critical research on men and masculinities, and has published extensively on sociology, organizations, management, policy, gender, sexualities, violences, cultural studies, and autoethnography. Handbook of Studies on Men and Masculinities.