Sunday, January 30, 2011

Personal Space Invasion Experiment

           I chose to do an experiment for my Communications class that required me to make a personal space invasion while conversing with someone else. From the moment the experiment was assigned I knew what I would do. I wanted to stand closer than normal to someone while I talked to them, at least three inches from their face. I chose the workplace as my testing lab for the experiment. Instead of trying the invasion on only one subject I chose three people that I could experiment with.  I hypothesized that I would see many of the same characteristics displayed by each of the test subjects. Through my experiment I saw three main things; an initial shock, inquiry as to what I was doing, and anger at my persistence in the exercise.
            Each of my three subject’s initial response went something like this, “Dude, what are you doing?” Well in two of the instances it was a bit more colorful than that, but the overall message was still the same. They had no idea as to why I was so close to them while conversing. In some cultures it is polite and acceptable to converse in close quarters; however, in the culture of the United States people tend to like and expect their personal space. The first term that I credit with the awkwardness of the experiment is from chapter one, culture. The practices of our culture make people believe that if I am talking to close to them then I am invading their personal space.
            The second response to my invasion of personal space was the subjects questioning the motives as to what I was doing. When their personal space was invaded they did not know why I was doing such a thing, so they began to question me. I played it off like I was just acting normal, but it did not work. I could not pretend that space invasions like that were normal. People know what their personal space is and they tend to defend it. The terms from the reading that I credit this too come from chapter seven, personal space and social space. Personal space for someone in the U.S. is defined in the book as the wingspan of that person. Social space is actually a greater distance then personal space. My experiment was an invasion of both and in every instance spurred some kind of anger from each of my subjects.
            The main things that I saw through this exercise were people want and expect their personal space. Like a child who gets a toy taken away, the subjects did not respond well to their space being invaded.  Another term that I uncovered in chapter seven reading that could be a major reason to people being angered my invasion is the concept that from 0-18” is what people consider intimate space.  Since my male co-workers had no intention of getting intimate with me, I can see why they were so upset. Although each subject displayed their own response, all of them showed similar characteristics that voiced their distaste.
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1 comment:

  1. Great job not only with the experiment but with relating your experiences back to course concepts! I think the other thing we see at play here is the already established rules and norms for conversations with your specific colleagues. You've interacted with them before and therefore had already established norms.