I spent some time today looking into personal space and how we define our own boundaries. Fortunately I managed to stumble upon a very interesting TIME article that looks into why it is so uncomfortable to stand really close to a person we have never met before. This discomfort comes from a part of the brain called the amygdalae, deep within your temporal lobe that controls emotions and thus fear. The article mentions a study by a team of scientists from Caltech that used a woman who’s amygdalae was severely damaged (due to a rare genetic condition) to find out what her conception of personal space was. In tests they found the subject had a preferred personal distance (when someone walked towards her) of 0.34m which was almost half of the preferred distance (0.64m) of a group of ‘normal’ subjects. Then in another test the subject was asked to walk to a experimenter and stop when she felt the distance was comfortable. She walked until her nose was virtually touching the experimenters! And she felt comfortable the whole time.
A separate test then used eight subjects with health amygdalae and put them into a magnetic-resonance-imaging device. They found their amygdalae lit up when they were told that an experimenter was standing close to them, even if they couldn't see/hear/smell the experimenter. All summed up this suggests we are wired to repel close human contact thus it is why we create our own personal boundaries and try to keep them in place (moving in response to a violation of space, asking people to move etc). So all in all a very informative article and study!
Delving into personal space we find Proxemics - this is a term coined by Edward T. Hall in 1963 and is a psychological, social-psychological and anthropological area of study addressing the use of space primarily in interpersonal communication. Social distance between people can be reliably correlated with physical distance and personal distances defined below:
Intimate distance for embracing, touching or whispering:
- Close phase – less than 6 inches (15 cm)
- Far phase – 6 to 18 inches (15 to 46 cm)
Personal distance for interactions among good friends or family members:
- Close phase – 1.5 to 2.5 feet (46 to 76 cm)
- Far phase – 2.5 to 4 feet (76 to 120 cm)
Social distance for interactions among acquaintances:
- Close phase – 4 to 7 feet (1.2 to 2.1 m)
- Far phase – 7 to 12 feet (2.1 to 3.7 m)
Public distance used for public speaking:
- Close phase – 12 to 25 feet (3.7 to 7.6 m)
- Far phase – 25 feet (7.6 m) or more.
This diagram shows Edward T Hall’s personal reaction bubbles (1966) of the space sectioned mentioned above.
Bearing all this in mind I am eager for my cable to arrive so I can connect my iPhone to the mini projector and see what range of projection I can get on the floor from waist height, as I may have to position it higher to get a greater area to project on.
Image and ref from wiki.