Final 1:Effects of Personal and Social Space Invasion on Pro-Social Behavior

This topic submitted by Chris, Zane, Rachel ( at 3:29 am on 1/1/04. Additions were last made on Friday, April 19, 2002. Section: Dorsey

If someone invaded your personal space, would you be more, or less likely to help him or her given the opportunity? This is the question that our group is putting forth. Every person has their own “personal space” which allows them to feel comfortable. Depending on a person’s company that bubble of space increases and decreases. We plan to show how much of an impact an intrusion into that personal space has on a person’s behavior by staging an experiment to test the reaction to an invasion of personal space.
As a rule, man has always been characteristically territorial. Territoriality is the behavior that an organism demonstrates to claim an area and defend it from other organisms. Among the areas highly guarded by man, perhaps the most prized is personal space. Anthropologist Edward Hall labeled these four areas surrounding a person as “bubbles” that serve to maintain proper spacing between individuals. Each person is said to have four zones of comfort around themselves, ranging from intimate, personal, social, and public. Each consecutive zone reaches farther away from a person’s body, and as a result, each consecutive zone is less personal than the last. The first zone, the intimate zone, is located 0 to 18 inches from the body. The second zone, personal zone, ranges from one and a half feet to four feet from the body. The third zone, the social zone stretches from four to twelve feet from the body. The final zone, the public zone, encompasses anything outside of twelve feet from the body.
We are focusing on the two middle zones, the personal and the social. Our hypothesis is that seated persons whose personal space was not invaded, but rather their social was, will help more often when that opportunity arises. This line of research is based on Konechi et al. (1975) and their conducted experiments. The experiment will show that a person who invades the social space of another will draw a more favorable reaction than if the personal space was invaded.
To accomplish our study, we must stage an experiment. A group member will invade the personal space (18 inches to four feet) or the social space (four feet to twelve feet) of a seated individual. The confederate will pass by the seated individual and “accidentally” drop a stack of index note cards. The remaining group members will observe the reactions of the seated individual, particularly as to whether the individual assists in picking up the fallen cards. The results of twenty-five tests for each of the two zones of study will be tabulated in our final report.

As the world’s population grows, the need to make space for people increases. By recognizing the various zones of involvement, relationships and emotions, more people can live comfortable together. By conducting this experiment, we are trying to determine how much space people need to feel comfortable. If people feel uncomfortable, they become more stressed. When people become more stressed, they become more sensitive to over crowding, and more space is required for each person. With the growing lack of space on this planet, people need to feel less stressed and more comfortable with less space.

Materials and Methods
The question arises in our research of why we are not studying the other two zones of personal space. We decided to omit the intimate zone because the test would have interfered with the studied individual too much. Throughout this lab, we are trying to maintain a lack of knowledge on the part of the observed individual to achieve higher accuracy. We also omitted the fourth zone, the public zone, because we felt that it would not draw any reactions from the intended seated individual. Our goal was to have one specific person get up and help the group member. It was decided that at a distance greater than twelve feet, the seated individual would not bother to get up to help, when another individual might, thus interfering with our research.
We are taking several different steps to insure accurate research. We will decide on a standard routine to approach the seated individual, and we will try not to deviate from it, so that each study is performed with little variance. To ensure accurate studies are taken, the group member who drops the note cards will not ask for assistance, nor will he/she speak to the seated individual, unless prompted by that individual. Throughout each of the twenty-five trials for each zone, we will strive to maintain equal distance between the individual and the group member, so that the test is fair to each seated individual. Through these methods, and others still to be discovered, we will preserve the accuracy of our research experiment.

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