I’LL LET YOU KNOW
how close you can come!
PREVIOUS: RIGID Bs (Part 2)
REVIEW: ‘Boundaries Defined’
WHAT are Healthy Bs?
According to Hayduk (1978), personal space is “the area individual humans actively maintain around themselves, into which others cannot intrude without arousing discomfort”, and Richard Stengel (1995) found that Personal Space is intuitively understood by all human beings
• Talking about having healthy Bs – ideally we have to start with individuals who are fully differentiated (via S & I). They know who they are and who they’re not. They take responsibility for what’s theirs & expect / allow others to take responsibility for what’s not theirs
• Then 2 such people, who are already independent, can be inter-dependent, being close enough to stay connected & have an impact on each others’ life. In thriving relationships Bs are flexible enough so they can grow and change. They can be drawn in to encourage intimacy or extended to create safety
Social scientist Irwin Altman studied privacy as it relates to all forms of Social Boundaries – what makes them optimal, balancing between ‘not too hot & not too cold’!
According to Altman (1975) the following regulate our private space:
1. Bs are fluid – we decide how open or closed we are in reaction what’s going on inside or outside of ourselves
2. Bs are not perfect – the amount of space we want or need to feel comfortable and fulfill a particular role, vs what we actually get
3. Bs are flexible – our invisible boundary adjusts to different situations
If a person is subjected to more privacy than they’d like (more is not necessarily better), they may start crowding others, given an opportunity. With too little privacy, the compensation is to isolate
4. Bs are 2-way – involving input from others, such as noise, & output to others, such as talking
5. Bs are 2-leveled – for individuals and groups (public places, cyberspace…)
In the early 1960s American anthropologist Edward Hall was one of the pioneers in the study of man’s spatial needs, & coined the word ‘proxemics‘, which is a subcategory of non-verbal communication, emphasizing its impact on social interaction. It looks at how we respond to & use our personal space – the distance between ourselves and others.
His research led to new understanding of the need human beings have for territory, just as animals do, which he divided into:
Personal – the immediate space surrounding individuals. For exp, our body spacing & posture are unconscious reactions to subtle changes in sound & pitch of another person’s voice.
Territory, the area which a person may “lay claim to” and defend against others. Defending territory is said to be a means of “propagating the species by regulating density”.
This aspect includes the study of humans organization of space in houses and buildings, the layout of towns & cities, and in collective forms such as Clans & Countries.
• We react to changes in the space around us, manipulating our environment to suit our unique ‘Comfort Zone’ needs. Everyone has rules for what is right or wrong for them, so there are no absolutes. When there is a severe decrease in available personal space, we feel uncomfortable & if the situation persists, this lack of control over our environment can cause psychological distress. Some responses to violations of space are:
— increasing interpersonal distance, turning away, walking away
— choosing less personal topics to talk about, making remarks about leaving, avoiding eye contact
— AND, as with non-humans, pushed too far we react with aggression.
Cultural Factors : Hall noted that Realizing and Recognizing cultural differences helps eliminate discomfort people may feel when their interpersonal distance is too large (“stand-offish”) or too small (intrusive).
The Lewis Model of Cultural Types suggests three poles of personal styles between people:
— “multi-active” cultures, characterized as warm and impulsive (Brazil, Mexico, Italy)
— “linear-active” cultures, which are characterized as cool and decisive (Germany, Norway, USA)
— “reactive” cultures, characterized as accommodating and non-confrontational (Vietnam, China, Japan)
Degree of Intimacy: Hall determined this factor by the “angle formed by the axis of the conversants’ shoulders” – in a combination of postures (sitting, standing, prone…) between two people, effected by the following nonverbal factors:
Kinesthetic – how close people are touching
Olfactory – degree of odor picked up by each other
Thermal – amount of body heat each picks up from the other
Touching – the specific ways 2 people are touching each other – or not
Visual – the amount of eye contact
Voice – vocal effort made: silent, very soft, soft, normal, normal+, loud, & very loud.
NEXT: Healthy Bs – info (Part 2)