The idea of personal space was introduced by anthropologist Edward T. Hall, who created the concept of proxemics, the study of physical distance between people as they interact. Personal space is the area surrounding people which they regard as theirs. Hall identified four zones of personal space. There is the intimate zone, a range of six to 18 inches, for lovers, children, and close family members – anyone whom a person kisses, embraces, touches, or whispers to. The personal zone, which measures from 1.5 to four feet around a person, is used to converse with friends and associates and to participate in group discussions. Another, the social zone, is reserved for strangers and new groups and acquaintances. This zone extends from four feet to up to 12 feet. The fourth zone, the public zone, is the distance a person maintains for larger audiences during speeches, lectures, and theater presentations.
Allowing a person to enter one’s personal space or entering another person’s personal space indicates how one person perceives the relationship with the other person. Hall determined that different cultures maintain different standards of personal space. In Latin cultures, for instance, those distances are smaller, and people tend to be more comfortable standing close to each other; in Nordic cultures, the opposite is true. Recognizing these differences can improve cross-cultural understanding and help eliminate discomfort.
Write a 5 PARAGRAPH response to one of the following questions:
1. Think about personal space in your own culture. Discuss how your culture’s standards of personal space compare to the zones described in the passage.
2. Think about how you feel when people don’t respect your personal space. Describe a time when issues of personal space made you feel uncomfortable.
Provide specific details and examples to support your answer.
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A time when issues of personal space made me feel uncomfortable was when I went out to eat at a particular restaurant. It has become tradition among my friends that for our birthday celebrations we go out and have dinner at a restaurant. On my 22nd birthday I choose to go to Outback Steak house. I choose Outback simply because they had an advertised special on television that looked good and because we had never been to them before.
On the night of my birthday several of my friends came by my house and picked me up at around six in the evening. We drove to the restaurant and got there by six thirty. We checked in with the host and were taken to our seat. The table was a round booth and I was seated on the end. The host informed us that our server would be by in a few minutes to take our order....
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