INTRODUCTION Personal Space is very individualized. Depending on your sex, race, ethnicity personal space can vary greatly. There are many interpretations of personal space. According to Sommer (1969), personal space is the area surrounding a personís body that has invisible boundaries which invaders are not allowed. In the 1960s, Hall conducted research on proxemics, which is the study of manís behavioral use of space. He concluded that there are four personal space zones. The first is the intimate zone. This includes the acts of whispering and embracing and is usually performed within 18 inches of your body. The next zone is the personal zone, which occurs when you are talking to close friends. This zone is between 18 inches and four feet. The third zone is the social zone. This zone occurs when you are talking with acquaintances or people who are not your close friends and are within four to ten feet of your body. The last zone is the public zone, which is ten to twenty-five feet of you body and is the interaction with strangers. In additions to these definitions of personal space, Vaishnavi, Calhoun, and Chatterjee (2001) also included in their research that personal space was actually the space that was occupied by our bodies and that peripersonal space was the space surrounding our bodies. With all these definitions of personal space, one must keep in mind that it is very particular to each individual. There are many variations and interpretations of personal space. The cross-cultural study conducted by Evans, Lepore, and Allen (2000), discovered that Latin Americans and Asians have a smaller personal space than North Americans or Northern Europeans. Even within the United States, people perceive personal space differently. Mexican Americans and Vietnamese Americans have a different understanding of personal space as do Anglo-Americans and African American. Even so, King (1999) found that Americans typically feel comfortable talking to strangers at one armís length while the Swiss are comfortable between twelve to eighteen inches. King also found that the Japanese people prefer two armís length which is contradictory to the research done conducted by Evans, Lepore, and Allen (2000) who found that Asians have smaller personal spaces. Sommer (1969) describes invasion of personal space as trespassing into a personís self-boundaries. He says that people are more tolerant when others invade their personal space from their sides than directly in front of them. Klinge (1999) conducted a study on invasion of space with respects to gender differences. Using 75 male participants and 75 female participants, Klinge found that females tend to sit next to their friends while males tend to sit across from their friends. Klinge also found that females felt more negatively towards those researchers who sat across from them and males felt more negatively towards the researchers who sat next to them. The research done on personal space and invasion of personal space is vast. Past studies have incorporated age, gender, and ethnicity to help expand on the knowledge of personal space. In this study we went one step further in research and testing the differences of personal space of smoking and non-smoking females. Smokers tend to stay around each other when smoking their cigarettes. They are socially confined to certain areas due to the fact that non-smokers are so avidly against being in the presence of cigarette smoke. We predict that non-smoking females will have more negative reactions to the invasion of their personal space. The reason for this hypothesis is that non-smoking females are not used to having people sit close to them. Another hypothesis is that the smoking females will have less negative reactions to the invasions of their personal space because smokers are used to being in smaller, confined places. In order to support our hypothesis, we had a control group who we do not invade their space by staying more than one armís length from them. For the experimental group, we had both smoking and non-smoking females. For the smoking females, we either refrained from smoking or joined them in smoking and recorded their verbal and non-verbal reactions. For the non-smoking females, we always refrained from smoking and recorded their verbal and non-verbal reactions. The independent variable in this study is the amount of space we put between the participant and the researcher. The dependent variable is the reaction of the participant when their personal space is being invaded.
The participants who were involved in this study were all college students at Loyola University New Orleans. The participants were picked at random in the area on Loyolaís campus known as the Peace Quad. Sixty female students, both smokers and non-smokers, were chosen for this study so that the researchers could document their verbal and non-verbal reactions when the researchers invaded their personal space. The participants were not officially recruited. The researchers chose the participants only if they met all of the following requirements:1. The participant was sitting alone on a bench in the Palm Court.2. The participant was not involved in any form of communication.3. The participant was either smoking or not smoking.4. The participant was female.5. The participant was over the age of 18. All participants were selected through convenience sampling. The participant was included in this study if they were sitting on the benches in the Palm Court during class time. Since the participants were not informed of their partaking in the study, due to the risk of reactivity, they received no consent forms.
The materials are a pen and paper used to record the verbal and non-verbal reactions of the participants. Also included in the materials are the benches located in the Peace Quad of Loyola University New Orleans. Cigarettes were a key material in this study. They were used when, and only when, the participant was smoking. A debriefing script, a debriefing handout, and 60 copies of the data sheet (see appendix) were also included in the materials.The first part of the data sheet included basic information about the participant and their conditions. The information included the time, date, approximate distance between the participant and the researcher, the condition of the participant and researcher (whether they are smoking or non-smoking), and the amount of time the researcher spent next to the participant.The second part of the data sheet included the scales of the verbal and non-verbal reactions. Both verbal and non-verbal reactions were rated 1-6, depending on the level or severity of their reactions. The non-verbal reactions were reactions that are not sounds or words produced by the participant. Non-verbal reactions were those reactions given through body language. These reactions included (listed least severe to most severe): glancing, crossing leg in opposite direction, crossing arms, turning body in opposite direction, moving hand to guard face, and leaving the bench. The verbal reactions were those sounds and words produced by the participant in response to the researcher. These reactions included sniffing, coughing, clearing the throat, laughing, inquiring what the researcher is doing, and commanding researcher to go away.
This study was a 2 x 2 between subjects design. The between condition was the whether the researcher was smoking or not smoking. There are two independent variables in this study. The first one was the amount of space between the participant and the researcher. This variable had two levels: less than one armís length and more than two armís length between the participant and the researcher. The second independent variable was the smoking status of the researcher. This also had two levels, if the researcher was smoking or not smoking while invading the personal space of the participant. If the participant was smoking a cigarette, the researchers either joined in smoking and observed the verbal and non-verbal reactions or abstained from smoking and observe the smoking femaleís verbal and non-verbal reactions. However, if the participant was not smoking, the researcher refrained from smoking and recorded her verbal and non-verbal reactions. These two independent variables resulted in the following six groups:Experimental Group (30 participants):1. Non-smoking participant, Non-smoking researcher, with less than one armís length between the participant and the researcher (ten participants).2. Smoking participant, Non-smoking researcher, with less than one armís length between the participant and the researcher (ten participants).3. Smoking participant, Smoking researcher, with less than one armís length betweenthe participant and the researcher (ten participants). Control Group (30 participants):1. Non-smoking participant, non-smoking researcher, with more than two armís lengthbetween the participant and the researcher (ten participants).2. Smoking participant, Non-smoking researcher, with more than two armís length between the participant and the researcher (ten participants).3. Smoking participant, smoking researcher, with more than two armís length betweenthe participant and the researcher (ten participants). The Dependent Variable in this study was the reaction to the invasion of personal space. The operational definitions for this study include: Glancing = look at researcher and quickly look awayCrossing leg in opposite direction = placing the leg closest to the researcher over the other leg Crossing arms = folding arms over each otherTurning body in opposite directions = physically positioning body so that their back is facing towards the researcherMoving hand to guard face = placing hand in front of face as to shield from the researcherLeaving the bench = physically standing up and removing themselves from the presence of the researcherFor the experiment group, the primary researcher sat within one armís length of the participant. When sitting within this marker, it was predicted that the participant would feel uncomfortable and react negatively with either verbal or non-verbal reactions mentioned above. For the control group, the researcher sat more than two armís length from the participant and observed the verbal and non-verbal reactions of the female participant. For every participant, the primary researcher remained at the marked spot for five minutes. If the participant did not react to the researcher within that time frame, the researcher removed themselves from the bench and moved on to the next participant. There were several controls in this study. For example, in all cases, the secondary researcher remained out of sight, observing and recording the verbal and non-verbal reactions of the participants. This researcher had to make sure that the participant did not see them observing their reactions, so the secondary researcher sat at across from the participant and the primary researcher and casually looked as if they are performing a task not related to the study. For this study, it was necessary that the participant would not be informed of their involvement in the experiment. Another control in the study was that the researchers did not tell the participants about the study in order to ensure that the researchers were receiving pure naturalistic behaviors. If the participant was informed of the study, reactivity could have occurred. Reactivity occurs when the participant reacts a certain way that might not be true to form because they know that someone is watching them, and therefore altering the results of the study. However, after the researchers had recorded the reactions of the participants, the secondary researcher went up to the participant read from a debriefing script and gave them a debriefing handout (see Appendix).
RESULTS The findings in this study coincide with the hypothesis. There was more of a negative reaction when the personal space of the participants was invaded. There was a significant difference between the experimental group and the control group for all reaction, both verbal and non-verbal, except for crossing the arms, sniffing, and coughing. There was little difference in the amount of participants in the experimental group and those participants in the control group who reacted by crossing their arms, sniffing, or coughing. In the smoking condition, the mean of the verbal reactions in the control group was 1.0333 with a standard deviation of 1.1290. The mean for the experimental group was 6.2667 with a standard deviation of 3.1176. These results show that those in the experimental group reacted with more verbal reactions when the researcher was smoking. The overall mean for the verbal reactions was 3.65 with a standard deviation of 3.52. The overall mean for the non-verbal reactions was 4.82 with a standard deviation of 3.88. By comparing the overall means and standard deviations, results show that participants reacted more with non-verbal reactions. Figure 1. Means
No PS Both Figure 1 shows the means for both the experimental and control group. In the y-axis, ďNoĒ stands for neither the participant nor the researcher smoking. ďPSĒ stands for only the participant smoking. ďBothĒ stands for both the participant and the researcher are smoking.
Table 1. Inferential Statistics % Control % Exp. x2 p valueNon-Verbal Glancing 26.7 46.7 12.27 0.001Leg Cross 15 31.7 6.696 0.02Arm Cross 5 6.7 0.162 1Bodyturn 1.7 26.7 18.468 0Facehide 6.7 .112*Leave 21.7 .000*Verbal Sniff 8.3 10 0.111 1Cough 6.7 11.7 1.002 0.505Throat 6.7 30 14.067 0Laugh 23.3 18.261 0Inquire 10 6.667 0.024Command 0.1 6.667 0.024* Fisher exact test used to calculate the significant value. Table 1 shows the inferential statistics of the findings in this study. The Chi-Square test was used in this study along with the degree of freedom and the p value. However, the Fisherís Exact test was sometimes used to calculate the p value because participants in the control group did not react to the researcher by hiding their face, leaving the bench, laughing, inquiring what the researcher is doing, or commanding the researcher to go away.
DISCUSSION The findings in the study do support both hypotheses. The first hypothesis was that non-smoking females would have more negative reactions to the invasion of their personal space. The second hypothesis was that the smoking females will have less negative reactions to the invasions of their personal space. The non-smoking participants did have more negative reactions to the invasion of their personal space. Also, those smoking participants who were smokers were less likely to react negatively when their personal space was invaded. There was a strong effect in every reaction except arm crossing, sniffing, and coughing. The results of this study are similar to that of Kingís study (1999). King found that Americans typically feel more comfortable talking to strangers at one armís length. The results in this study show that people do feel uncomfortable when a stranger sits less than one armís length between them. However, Klinge (1999) found that females tend to act more negatively when researchers sat across from them rather than next to them. In this study, the primary researcher sat next to the female participant, which resulted in negative reactions. Though sitting across from the participant was not a condition in this study, results show that females act more negatively when the researcher sits next to them. There were a few shortcomings of this study. One shortcoming was that the researchers did not take into account the fact that the participants might react in a positive way. Such positive reactions might be smiling or starting a conversation with the primary researcher. Another shortcoming is that males were not involved in this study. This could have altered the study by resulting in more effective data. Klinge (1999) found that males felt more negatively towards the researchers who sat next to them. He found that males tend to sit across from people rather than sitting next to them. The results in this study imply that invasion of personal space can put people in a very uncomfortable position. When put in an uncomfortable position, people tend to react negatively. By studying the implications of this study, one might think twice before invading another personís space. Also, people will be able to see that personal space is invaded in everyday life. By looking at these implications, they can see that they must come to terms with their personal space being invaded. A theoretical implication of this study would be that the invasion of personal space could result in violence. When personal space is invaded, people tend to react negatively. If pushed too far, this negative reaction could become violent. Improvements could be made on this study by adding males as participants. This way, researchers could get a broader look at invasion of personal space. Researchers could also create a study to discover how often people react negatively compared to when they react positively. Instead of reacting negatively, people might react positively to the invasion of their personal space. Positive reactions would include starting up a conversation with the researcher or smiling at the researcher. Personal space effects everyday life in several ways. For instance, people go into elevators multiple times throughout the course of the day. Many times, the elevator is crowded and as a result personal space will be invaded. Another example of how personal space is used in everyday life is in public transportation. Similar to elevators, public transportation can become very crowded and people can, at times, feel very uncomfortable. By studying the effects of personal space, we can come up with coping skills for situations that involve personal space invasions. Also, we could come up with ways to respect otherís personal space, which could lead to a more comfortable environment for everyone.
REFERENCES Evans, G.W., Lepore, S.J., Allen, K.M. (2000). Cross-cultural differences in tolerance for crowding: Fact or fiction? Journal of Personality And Social Psychology, 79, 2, 204-210.
King, S.K. (1999). Territorality. Aloha International. Retrieved on September 18, 2001, www.huna.org/html/territor.html.
Klinge, J.W. (1999). How Different Areas of Personal Space Are Protected: A Look At Gender Differences. Unpublished Manuscript. Georgetown University Department of Psychology.
Sommer, R. (1969). Personal space: The behavioral basis of design. Englecliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall Inc.
Vaishnavi, S., Calhoun, J., & Chatterjee, A. (2001). Binding personal and peripersonal space: Evidence from tactile extinction. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 13, 181-189.