There
have been a myriad of researches on proxemic behavior which reveal extremely
exciting and useful information about how space is used as communication and
its subsequent effects on communication outcomes. Watson (1972) conceived two classes of variables that determine
proxemic behavior, i.e. interactant (or participant) and environmental
variables. Another category, variables related to the nature of the
interaction, was added by Burgoon and Jones (1976).
Especially, I am really interested in the last classification that basically
consists of “formality or intimacy of the situation and topic, familiarity
of the interactants with the setting, the purpose of the interaction, and, in
group situations, the presence of a leader” (p. 134).

In Hall’s
(1966) analysis based on anthropological observations, personal distance
(founded on the degree of intimacy or formality of an interaction) is described
in four distinct zones: intimate space (close phase: less than 1 to 2 cm, far
phase: 6 -18 inches), personal space (close phase: 1.5 – 2.5 feet, far phase: 2.5
to 4 feet), social space (close phase: 4 – 7 feet, far phase: 7 – 12 feet), and
public space (close phase: 12 – 25 feet, far phase: 25 feet or more). The first
phase is for private interactions or physical contact, such as embracing,
touching or whispering or in Hall’s words – “this is the distance of
love-making and wrestling, comforting and protecting” (p. 117). The second one
is for situations involving less sensory involvement.  The third one is for such exchanges as
“impersonal business” or “social gathering” (p. 121). The last one is used for
used for public speaking or distances from public officials. Despite not
clarifying the personal space as specifically as Hall, Engleberg & Wynn (2006) maintained the
four zones. Close friends, lovers, children and close family members are
allowed in the intimate zone. The next zone is reserved for conversations with
friends, to chat with associates, and in group discussions. A further range is used
for strangers, newly formed groups, and new acquaintances. Speeches, lectures,
and theater which are for larger audiences are presented in the farthest
distance.

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