proxemics image from New Medical Terms

distances in proxemics


The formal study of the effects of the “sphere of space”–i.e., the distance separating one person from another–which dictates the way in which people interact 

Proxemics is based on the seminal work by ET Hall, professor of anthropology–Northwestern, who divided distances into distinct zones–e.g., personal, intimate (close talker, from Seinfeld, Season 5, Episode 18, The Raincoats, Part I), social, public–in which people operate

Proxemics zones  

Intimate distance 0-50 cm (0-18 inches) 

Personal distance 0.5-1.25 m (11⁄2 to 4 feet) 

Social distance 1.25-4.0 m (4 to 12 feet) 

Public distance 4.0 m+ (12 feet +) 

Hall subdivided each into close and far extremes, and recognised that operating zones differ according to culture and according to sex. For heterosexual Western male (but not female) invasion of the intimate distance is an extreme violation of etiquette largely due to territorial imperatives, but also related to an undercurrent of homophobia. This contrasts with certain Arabian cultures, in which operating within the intimate distance is acceptable for males 

References Body Language, Fast, Evans, NYC, 1970

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