Personal Space

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#1
I thought this was interesting (and quirky) - is it showing us our in built evolutionary wiring and can it really show national (and potentially stereotpyical) differences?

On the beach

How much space do you need on a beach? Marc Abrahams has the answers

Tuesday February 15, 2005
The Guardian

Some 30 years ago, beachgoers in three countries found that strangers were coming up to them, asking strange questions. The strangers turned out to be fairly harmless. They were academics, driven by a fierce desire to understand how much space people appropriate for themselves when they plop down on a beach.

In 1973, Julian Edney and Nancy Jordan-Edney of the University of Arizona had travelled 2,000 miles east and spent five days striding up and down a beach. Their subsequent report, called Territorial Spacing on a Beach and published in the journal Sociometry, was a landmark in the history of studying territorial spacing on beaches.

The Edneys' artfully collected data, after careful crunching and interpretation, told them several things. As groups get bigger, they tend to grab less space per person. Men tend to grab more space than women. And there were nuances that were not so easily interpreted, then or now.

Seven years later another American, HW Smith, of the University of St Louis, went to Europe, determined to measure the spacing between people on a beach in France, and then on a beach in Germany. Smith succeeded. His report Territorial Spacing on a Beach Revisited: a Cross-National Exploration appeared in the journal Social Psychology Quarterly.

In both Germany and France, Smith found much the same thing that the Edneys had seen in America. And he discovered something more. "Lone Germans," Smith wrote, "had more circularly shaped claims than lone French persons." Also, Germans "overwhelmingly (99%) tended to structure very rigidly public space by building sand castles around their territories".

The urge to measure people's personal space has not been confined to beaches. In 1974, Paul Nesbitt of the University of Nevada, Reno, and Girard Steven of the University of California, Santa Barbara, published a report called Personal Space and Stimulus Intensity at a Southern California Amusement Park. They explain how they sent a young woman or man into the queues for various attractions at an amusement park. It was found that subjects stood further away when the stimulus persons wore brightly coloured clothes, and similarly when they used perfume or after-shave lotion.

Recently, Masae Shiyomi, of Ibaraki University in Mito, Japan, performed an Edney-esque set of measurements with cows. Details can be found and enjoyed in her report How are Distances Between Individuals of Grazing Cows Explained by a Statistical Model? in the journal Ecological Modeling. How, exactly, do cows form a crowd? The question drives Shiyomi; statistically minded farmers will want to follow her adventures.
Source

As I know you'd all want to rush off I dug out that last paper:

Shiyomi, M. (2004) How are distances between individuals of grazing cows explained by a statistical model? Ecological Modelling. 172 (1). 87 -94.

Abstract

A statistical model to describe how distances between individuals of grazing previous cows are explained is discussed in this paper. This model was constructed by the following five effects: (1) behavior of the entire crowd (measured by troop length in this study), (2) repulsive and attractive forces operating directly between two individuals (direct effect), (3) effect of third individual on distance between two given individuals (half-indirect effect), (4) effects of unconnected pairs on the distance between two given individuals (indirect effect), and (5) residual effect which cannot be explained by the above four effects to determine distances between individuals (random/involuntary movement effect). These effects were analyzed using simple and multiple regression equations. Whole data taken every 5 min were divided into two phases: a grazing phase and a resting phase.

The distances between two individuals in the grazing phase were much greater than the distances in the resting phase. The temporal variation of distances between two individuals in the grazing phase was much larger than the variation of distances in the resting phase. The order of the contributions of the five effects to the total variation of temporal changes in distances between individuals were: random movement effect>troop length effect~direct effect>half-indirect effect>indirect effect.

Author Keywords: Crowd; Distances between individuals; Grazing cattle; Model; Regression analysis
 

Leaferne

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#2
The first article says men grab more space than women; I wonder if men's space is less intruded upon? (Anecdotally I would say yes, but ... )
 

Graylien

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#3
It would be interesting to repeat the 1973 study to see if people required less personal space now than they did thirty years ago. I would expect that, on average, they do. I am often irritated by people standing ridiculously close to me at the ATM or in supermarket queues, and the offenders are usually younger than myself. I suspect that we form our individual concept of "personal space" at an early age, and youngsters growing up in our increasingly crowded society have learned to be comfortable with less personal space than their elders.
 

stu neville

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#4
I think a fair bit of it is cultural, too. People I know who have been to Beijing say that personal space just doesn't exist there, ditto much of South America. As it said in the report, you notice it in Europe too: Mediterranean people tend to be more tactile and comfortable with people in their immdiate vicinity than people from Northern or Western Europe.
 

Leaferne

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#5
graylien said:
It would be interesting to repeat the 1973 study to see if people required less personal space now than they did thirty years ago. I would expect that, on average, they do. I am often irritated by people standing ridiculously close to me at the ATM or in supermarket queues, and the offenders are usually younger than myself. I suspect that we form our individual concept of "personal space" at an early age, and youngsters growing up in our increasingly crowded society have learned to be comfortable with less personal space than their elders.
That may be down to a certain social gormlessness or lack of manners (or just arrogance) too.
 

lopaka

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#6
stu neville said:
I think a fair bit of it is cultural, too. People I know who have been to Beijing say that personal space just doesn't exist there, ditto much of South America. As it said in the report, you notice it in Europe too: Mediterranean people tend to be more tactile and comfortable with people in their immdiate vicinity than people from Northern or Western Europe.
Yeah, definitely. Maybe even more so for North Americans. Having lived in the west/midwest for so long, being used to the open spaces of the prairie, I found on my trip to southern Italy last year that my idea of what constituted "the right/comfortable amount of personal space in a public setting" was a bit larger than that of the locals.
 
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Anonymous

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#7
I don't go to the beach unless I know there's going to be quite a large expanse of empty sand between me and any strangers on there.

A couple of miles is usually okay ;)

Living by the seaside, it sometimes amazes me just how infrequent my trips to the beach are. They're just too crowded. The traffic is appalling. And I hate with a passion that can scarce be contained in a word a mere four letter long being close to people. I hate queues. I hate having people close enough to breathe on me. I hate it when they start coughing. I don't know why people have to stand closer than, say 12-18 inches away.
 
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Anonymous

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#8
i gues my personal space extends about 3foot round me!..all round, cant stand anyone reading over my shoulder etc... and i know lots of people who cuddle each other at the drop of a hat...to which my reaction is GET OFF!..
 

Timble2

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#9
I agree with WH Auden on personal space:

I Have No Gun,
But I Can Spit


Some thirty inches from my nose
The frontier of my Person goes,
And all the untilled air between
Is private pagus or demesne.
Stranger, unless with bedroom eyes
I beckon you to fraternize,
Beware of rudely crossing it:
I have no gun, but I can spit.

W.H. Auden,
The Birth of Architecture
 

EggSucker

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#10
That's an excellent poem. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

I heartily agree with the sentiment as well. Have you ever had to talk to someone who's personal space seems nonexistant, and everytime you take a step back, they take one forward. How I hate that!

You end up backed up against a wall or a table, and being so uncomfortable that you're unintentionally rude to them, before dashing off and feeling horrible about yourself and the whole encounter for the rest of the day.

For some reason, it seems to happen to me with little old men connected with the church...
 

Rubyait

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#11
Too right.I cant stand space invaders (not the game), i mean why would anyone need to be practically on top of you to communicate (no that kind of communication!)?
 

Stormkhan

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#12
My own sense of personal space is flexible.
On a crowded tube, it doesn't bother me (apart from being fed up that I can't easily read my book) but I don't really like attending crowded events, like gigs.
As far as ATM's go, another factor is the awareness of risk to security. I'm not paranoid but if someone's too close, I'm aware they might try snatching my cash or card - it hasn't happened yet but I'm still conscious of the possibility.
My idea of luxury is to lie on a bed and if I can stretch out my arms and legs and not feel the edges, it's groovy. Should my arm encounter t'other half, it's groovy too but aint nuthin' like spreading out.
 

SniperK2

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#13
If I know the person well, or they're a relative I have no problem with how close they are, with strangers, it has to be about an arms length, and I cannot stand crowds, which is why I wouldn't get on an aeroplane, since I can't choose to get off, which I can on a bus, for instance. If in a lift or some-one is too close, I always cross my arms, I notice. If the doctors is crowded, but there is one seat between two people, I'll stand rather than sit down, things like that.
 

jarmaniac

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#14
ISTR a study having been done that showed that the shape of the "personal zone" is not uniform - (some of) the subjects were violent criminals in US prisons, and they needed a LONG space behind them, presumably because they were afraid that one of their fellow violent criminals was about to sandbag, but a smaller space when they could see the other person them. But generally speaking the more aggressive the person, the greater the amount of personal space required.

Couldn't tell you where I read this, but probably in Colin Wilson somewhere (ha! that narrows it down a lot - NOT).
 
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#15
I'm intrigued by this:

Seven years later another American, HW Smith, of the University of St Louis, went to Europe, determined to measure the spacing between people on a beach in France, and then on a beach in Germany. Smith succeeded. His report Territorial Spacing on a Beach Revisited: a Cross-National Exploration appeared in the journal Social Psychology Quarterly.

In both Germany and France, Smith found much the same thing that the Edneys had seen in America. And he discovered something more. "Lone Germans," Smith wrote, "had more circularly shaped claims than lone French persons." Also, Germans "overwhelmingly (99%) tended to structure very rigidly public space by building sand castles around their territories".
Here it is:

Territorial Spacing on a Beach Revisited: A Cross-National Exploration
H. W. Smith
Social Psychology Quarterly. Vol. 44, No. 2 (Jun., 1981), pp. 132-137

Abstract

A naturalistic American study of territorial spacing on a beach by Edney and Jordan-Edney (1974) was replicated in France and West Germany using theoretical notions developed by Hall (1976). Some of the original Edney and Jordan-Edney patterns were found to have significant cultural variations. Larger groups, mixed-sex groups, and females tended to claim less space per person than smaller groups, same-sex groups and males, while some other patterns were not generalized. The results were consistent with the suggestion that cross-national commonalities in territorial patterns are more important than within-culture variations.
I found the previous paper too (I suspect the journal had a name change):

Territorial Spacing on a Beach
Julian J. Edney; Nancy L. Jordan-Edney
Sociometry. Vol. 37, No. 1 (Mar., 1974), pp. 92-104

Abstract

This exploratory study focused on people's use of a large, open beach. The main concern was to see how naturally occurring groups of different size and composition claimed territory and shared this type of unstructured space with others. Findings showed that (a) group territories did not grow regularly with group size, but that space claims per person tended to decrease as group size increased; (b) females tended to claim smaller territories than males, and were found under higher local density conditions; (c) certain territory characteristics (size in some groups, markers in others) tended to change with time; (d) the influence of local density on respondent's estimates of the crowding capacity of the beach varied with the respondent's group size and sex composition. Additional data revealed (e) a significant relation between density and respondent's occupational background among certain groups.
 

Thirtysixth_Bee

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#16
I'm from the northernmost state in the US and I actually like being in crowds and don't mind being touched and jostled by strangers whatsoever (unless they're being aggressive). Then again I was practically raised in a moshpit. I wonder if graylien has a point about younger people needing less personal space. But I'm 36 which is hardly young. I don't think I'm a pervy sociophile(made up word?). There must be other people who like crowds the way I do. I like living in big apartment complexes where I can smell my neighbor's cooking and hear their music too. I guess I like being surrounded. Is there a word for this?
 
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Anonymous

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example said:
I don't think I'm a pervy sociophile(made up word?). There must be other people who like crowds the way I do. I like living in big apartment complexes where I can smell my neighbor's cooking and hear their music too. I guess I like being surrounded. Is there a word for this?

frottage..The act of rubbing against the body of another person, as in a crowd, to attain sexual gratification (not that im sugesting that you do!)



and im the oposite i live in a flat (apartment) and would rather everyone else inthe place was silent, didnt move about and never cooked anything smelly.
 
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Anonymous

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#18
I'm with Sidecar. While I don't particularly want to live out in the sticks, I don't want to have to tolerate neighbours. As I keep saying - if I'd wanted screaming kids outside, I'd have had my own.

I've decided to win the lottery and buy a disused lock-keeper's house. :D
 

Thirtysixth_Bee

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#19
sidecar_jon said:
frottage..The act of rubbing against the body of another person, as in a crowd, to attain sexual gratification (not that im sugesting that you do!)
:lol: Well now that you mention it . . . . . . nah, not really though. But when I first 'entered young adulthood' I didn't mind being grabbed and touched by boys (ergo sexually harrassed) until some other girls explained to me that it was an act of aggression against me. Now of course, it pisses me off no end. I wish someone else would post saying they're like this as well. I'm starting to feel lonely. :roll:
 

ENTIANONMULTI

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#20
The requirement for personal space can also depend on how confident you are, and also how effective you think your deoderant is or how fresh you think your breath is.
 

Thirtysixth_Bee

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#21
Entia non multi said:
The requirement for personal space can also depend on how confident you are, and also how effective you think your deoderant is or how fresh you think your breath is.
Yeah, and also how badly a stranger might need to push inside your space. Like one time this woman I'd never seen before threw her arms around me and wouldn't let go. I hugged her right back until the police and ambulance arrived, and wasn't in the least uncomfortable with her proximity. I'm sure we all let down our guard for people in need.
 
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Anonymous

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#22
Ravenstone, I completely agree that people who stand closer in a queue than 12-18 inches are majorly annoying. My personal space is about 18 inches all the way around. My Mom's is much the same. My daughter, on the other hand, seems to have a personal space zone of about 6 inches more or less.

Kids these days.... sheesh. :roll:
 

ruffready

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#25
well...thats seems normal and works fine for me. Also , bad breath can move that up a foot or two!! I say Floss!! and clean them teeth!! and 30 seconds of a good mouth wash !! I love a girl with minty breath !! then I'm back to my full 7 1/2 inches!! Joy Joy!! :D
 

ruffready

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#28
So you're not really the Average American Male, then are you Ruff? "....I want to be meeeee! Just have to be meee! whether I"m right (I lean to th left) or whether I'm wronge I got to be meeeee! (Sammy Davis Jr.) What's Average? You know folks (some-there was this book) sense other folks just by the way they feel ..I myself think (hope) I feel good. :p
 
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