Sunday, August 12, 2012

What is Personal Space?

Personal space is an approximate area surrounding an individual in which other people should not physically violate in order for them to feel comfortable and secure. The amount of personalspace required for any given person is subjective. For example, one who is accustomed to busy city life, especially riding on crowded subways, is more tolerant of others impeding on their personal space than someone who may live in a more rural area. In fact one who is used to having their personal space respected may become extremely anxious and claustrophobic when placed in a situation where personal space is a luxury.
For the majority of people who find some amount of personal space necessary for their security, an unexpected violation can be very disconcerting. For example, if you were standing in an airport that was relatively vacant and a person that you did not know came up and stood in very close proximity to your body, you would probably feel extremely alarmed. This violation of personal space and the discomfort that it causes works to keep you safe from potential threats such as those who might wish to harm you.
There are commonly exceptions to one’s need for personal space especially when the exceptions are anticipated. Crowded events such as concerts, fairs, and sports arenas normally don’t leave room for ample personal space. But event goers normally don’t mind suspending their space requirements in exchange for the fun they provide.
Another reason to quell one’s need for personal space is in romantic relationships. In these cases the lack of personal space is usually expected as well as desired. Similarly family members often welcome hugs and affection in exchange for their personal space. These close and personal situations are often built on high levels of trust which is critical due to the physical and emotional vulnerabilities that a lack of space creates. But the issue of trust as it is related to personal space works both ways which is why experts believe that intimacy in relationships helps them to grow stronger over time.
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 anxiety when their personal space is encroached. Permitting a person to enter personal space and entering somebody else's personal space are indicators of perception of the relationship between the people. There is an intimate zone reserved for lovers, children and close family members. There is another zone used for conversations with friends, to chat with associates, and in group discussions; a further zone is reserved for strangers, newly formed groups, and new acquaintances; and a fourth zone is used for speeches, lectures, and theater; essentially, public distance is that range reserved for larger audiences.

Entering somebody's personal space is normally an indication of familiarity and at times of intimacy. However, in modern society, especially in crowded urban communities, it is at times difficult to maintain personal space, for example, in a crowded train, elevator or street. Many people find such physical proximity to be psychologically disturbing and uncomfortable, though it is accepted as a fact of modern life. In an impersonal crowded situation, eye contact tends to be avoided. Even in a crowded place, preserving personal space is important, and intimate and sexual contact, such as frotteurism and groping, are normally unacceptable physical contact.

Sources from : WiseGeek  and Wikipedia

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