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New Twist on My Space

As the United States population grows, the idea of "my personal space" becomes more important. Consider these observations:

  • Scientists define personal space to be "not only the invisible bubble around the body, but all the senses. People may feel their space is being violated when they experience an unwelcome sound, scent, or stare..."
  • Based on researchers who watched interaction patterns and body language surrounding a library table, the first chair taken is at a corner, then the chair at the opposite corner, then an adjacent corner, etc...
  • In a recent research study involving the computerized virtual reality world Second Life (to be published in CyberPsychology and Behavior), avatars (digital reprersentations of human life) even interacted as if they had a "personal space."
In 1963, Edward Hall, anthropologist and creator of science of proxemics, actually gave measurements for different levels of personal space (viewed as circles with a given radius):
  • Intimate distance: 6 inches to 18 inches
  • Personal distance: 18 inches to 4 feet
  • Social distance: 4 feet to 12 feet
  • Public distance: 12 feet or greater
Your Task: Look at your classroom. Is it possible to arrange the desks so that students do not intrude on any other student's Public Distance? Social Distance? Personal Distance? Intimate Distance?

And, what does this say about resultant classroom interactions and/or management issues?

Source: S. Rosenbloom's "In Certain Circles, Two Is a Crowd," NY Times, 11/16/2006