‘Personal space’

Video 1: Vox (2016) 


‘Personal space’, also known as ‘Proxemics’

Personal space – is the region surrounding a person which they regard as psychologically theirs. Most people value their personal space and feel discomfort, anger or even anxiety when their personal space is encroached.

Proxemics – is the study of human use of space and the effects that population density has an behaviour, communication and social interaction.

According to Hall (1963), the distance around each of us can be divided into 4 zones. The one closest to ourselves is the ‘intimate’ space, and only goes to about 18 inches away from our face. Next out from this central zone is what is technically called the

‘personal’ space, which covers about another 2-1/feet to reach a distance of 4 feet away from the tip of the nose. Next is a pretty large zone called the ‘social’ space, which goes from 4 to as many as 12 feet away from you. After that, it is public space all the way.  However, cultures differ in what they regard as appropriate boundaries of personal space.

 Image 1: WebHamster (2009) Personal Space 

Edward T. Hall, the cultural anthropologist who coined the term ‘Proxemics’  in 1963, defined it as ‘the interrelated observation and theories of humans use of space as a specialized elaboration of culture.’ In his foundational work on proxemics, The hidden Dimension, he emphasize the impact of proxemics behavior on interpersonal communication. Refer to Hall, the study of proxemics is valuable in evaluating not only the way people interact with others in daily life, but also ‘the organisation of space in houses and buildings, and ultimately the layout of their towns.’ It remain a hidden component of interpersonal communication that is uncovered through observation and strongly influenced by culture.

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Pakting Ma

Hi, I am studying BA Interior and Spatial design in Chelsea college of Arts.

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