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Proxemics
Welcome dear participants to the second module of the first week. In this discussion wewould look at Proxemics, try to define it and understand the four basic zones ofProxemics.(Refer Slide Time: 00:39)As an aspect of nonverbal communication, proximity looks at how we treat their spaceand distance between us and other people in any dyadic or a small group situation.Proxemics has its origin in the word ‘proximity’, which implies nearness in space time orrelationship. In everyday life we maintain certain distance with other people andtherefore, we maintain a particular type of a space and distance with others, we alsocommunicate our attitudes and feelings towards them. Any change in our specialrelationship with other people also communicates the type of attitude we have towardsthem. Whether we want to maintain certain distance from them are we at ease or withthem.In a group situation our orientation towards other people also displays with which groupmember we are more comfortable. In the same way we would find that in dyadicsituations also, if we like a person or if we are close to a person, we tend to move closerto them. This is a very superficial way of understanding Proxemics, but this is also thequintessential interpretation of the tongue.(Refer Slide Time: 02:04)In these sketches and in this visual, we find that different aspects of proxemics have beencommunicated. If we look at the photograph in which two people are sitting on the samebench, but the distance which exists between them and the distance which has beenstudiously maintained by them also suggest that there is no actual closeness betweenthese two. The differences in their attitudes as independent human beings can also beseen on the basis of the other aspects of body language.(Refer Slide Time: 02:39)In these photographs also we find that the proximity and this space, which we aremaintaining visibly others also conveys our attitude and ideas towards other people. Wecan make out in the left hand side photographs whether the space has been used tointimidate another person. In the dialogue of the two people which of the two is beingdefensive and which one is being aggressive.Similarly on the right hand side corner photograph, we can look at the ease and thedistance which has been maintained by these two people. We can contrast these pictureswith a bottom corner photograph in which a group of three people has been displayed.But in this group, we look at the two people are standing with certain closeness incomparison to the third person and the third person who is slightly isolated incomparison to others is also showing his isolation with the help of other body linguisticsigns.(Refer Slide Time: 03:50)The term proxemics has been coined by the cultural anthropologist, Edward T Hall. Hehad used this word in 1963 publication of his book with a title, The Hidden Dimension.The Hidden Dimension is in fact, the dimension which is never talked about specificallyby anybody. He has put across in this book his seminal theory about our perception of aspace and use of interpersonal distances to mediate their interactions with other people.He had also indicated a pragmatic relationship of his research to the principles oflinguistic structuralism and he is also identified the culturally dependent ways in whichpeople use interpersonal distances to comprehend and mediate their ideas andassociations with other people.(Refer Slide Time: 04:46)To Edward Hall proxemics was something which helps us to structure the space as wellas the micro space. The distance which we have with each other in our daily transactionsand also the organization of a space in our houses in buildings and ultimately in thelayout of the town. So, we find that proxemics is not only a study of the distance, whichpeople maintain with each other in different ways, but it is also a study of a space as it isbeing created and organized in other aspects of our experiences.The construction of houses as well as the arrangement within a house and similarly, howdo we construct the offices space with the help of the buildings and with the help of theinterior decoration.So, organization of a spaces, in houses, offices, building, city planning, as well as urbanrenewal is an unconscious structuring of micro space and a space has been treated byEdward T Hall as a specialized elaboration of culture.(Refer Slide Time: 06:00)The idea of proxemics can be understood by suggesting that we walk within an invisiblebubble. When we walk or we stand we do not only occupy this space which is exactlyrequired by our body, but let us say that an invisible bubble is surrounding us from everyside and we also treat this space of invisible bubble is a part of our own body space. Wecan look at this aspect of our behavior in crowded places, elevators, trains, seatingarrangement in restaurant offices, as well as an individual preferences regarding the seatwe occupy in any crowded place.Now, the idea behind this invisible bubble is that, when we walk we are surrounded bythis invisible bubble and we normally do not allow people to encroach upon this invisiblebubble. We feel threatened when somebody intentionally or accidentally encroachesupon this bubble. We allow only those people who are very close to us to enter thisbubble and irrespective of gender and culture if we are facing a situation in which peopleare intruding within our bubble and we cannot do anything about it, we develop adefense mechanism.You might notice that, when we are in a crowded space when there is nobody around uswho is friendly with us or who is our acquaintant, we try to develop a mechanism tocreate a make believe sense that this invisible bubble is still protected.For example in lifts, we would look at inanimate objects we would maintain an eyecontact with others we would look at the lift buttons, we would look at the number offloor which is being displayed, we would look at certain object and now of course, weprefer to look at the smart phone in our hand, but we try to avoid any eye to eye contactwith other people and this avoidance or direct eye contact helps us to understand that weare still keeping our invisible bubble intact. The same happens when we are traveling ina train, for example, or in a bus or in any other automobile, where other people who arenot known to us have to share the same space with us. We develop a body languagewhich suggest that we do not want to be close to them.So, proxemics occurs by virtue of people’s relative position to each other whereas wealso try to keep this invisible bubble intact. Proxemics also describe characteristic,spatial relationships including territorial phenomena among persons in various culturesor within a given culture for different kinds of social occasions.(Refer Slide Time: 09:14)The study Proxemics helps us to understand the level of comfort and discomfort, whichwe have towards other people. For example, as I have already commented if we movecloser to another person it may signal a better comfort, some level of intimacy. On theother hand if we move further down then it also offers a signal of discomfort or fearetcetera. At the same time it can be an assertion of power. In order to emphasize, one’sthe status of power one may try to move into other peoples personal space as it is oftendone by the police people by people who are interrogating others.And at the same time we find that in order to assert power a person can also be veryphysically distant. So, we find that these extremities suggest the relationship between thepower and the absence of power in different ways. Proxemics is divided into fourdifferent zones of intimacy level. These four zones are a classificatory system forinstinctive spacing distances and they are intimate, personal, social and public zones.Each zone has it is own close and far phases which we shall discuss and at the same timethere are cultural and locational aspects related with them, which will also be discussed.(Refer Slide Time: 10:47)The four zones and their distances are mentioned over here, the intimate zone which is15 to 45 centimeter from the closest possible contact to about 45 centimeter. Here, as youcan understand the other person is allowed to intrude into our personal bubble. The socialzone is somewhere from 46 centimeters to 1.2 meter, the personal zone is 1.2 to 3.6meters, the public zone is anywhere over this limit.(Refer Slide Time: 11:22)The intimate zone is from the closest possible body contact to 18 inches, which is adistance for comforting for whispering. This is also a zone in which we allow only veryclose people and family members. The personal zone is somewhere from 18 inches to 4feet, a distance which enables us to have casual conversations amongst friends andfamily, this is also the space which we maintain for our day to day work for example, inoffices etcetera.Social zone is from 4 to 12 feet, which is a distance which is reserved for formal socialand business transactions. Public zone is anywhere which is beyond this which is asuitable distance for public lectures, performances etcetera. These zones are notcompartmentalized very strictly there may be minor variations. But the idea behind themis communicated by roughly keeping the same space.(Refer Slide Time: 12:28)The intimate space or zone suggest that, we share the psychological bonding with otherpeople, we are mixing the bubbles of two people. We feel threatened if this is space isviolated and irrespective of the situation or gender or race, if suddenly comes very closeto us it results into a certain anxiety or a lack of comfort and our immediate reaction is tostep back so as to enhance the space between the two of us.Sports etcetera are an exception, because close physical contact, for example, in boxingor in wrestling etcetera is a compulsion. It is significant for us to keep the sanctity of theintimate space because the presence of other people within this space may beoverwhelming.The significance of voice and touch is also underscored in any discussion on intimatespace. At the same time our understanding of intimate space and to what extent we canwillingly share it with others and with whom is also decided by our culturalunderstanding.(Refer Slide Time: 13:45)In this particular video, we can look at the cultural aspects which govern our personalspace.(Refer Slide Time: 13:54)(Refer Slide Time: 14:03)(Refer Slide Time: 14:12)Everyone needs their own personal space. Personal space varies depending on thesurroundings and at the situation, but it is not done willingly it can create a lot of tension.(Refer Slide Time: 14:42)So, how do people kind of maintain this balance between crowding stress on the onehand and feeling isolated on the other? So, there are behavioral mechanisms according toRobert Sommer that people use to optimize their contact with other people. So, what dowe mean by personal space? Well, we said that it is an area around somebody’s body it isan invisible kind of zone and if people go into it too closely you start to feeluncomfortable, you start to feel that stress of too much proximity.(Refer Slide Time: 15:12)(Refer Slide Time: 15:17)According to Edward Hall, whose an anthropologist he found some very consistent zonesof personal space in his research across many different cultures. One zone is the intimatezone; 0 to 18 inches of contact with somebody else the personal distance zone a foot anda half to 4 feet out social distance, 4 to 12 feet out or public distance where you go intolecture and you are interacting with the speaker whose up on a podium and you areseparated from that person. So, these are different sort of zones of personal space thatpeople use.Let us say you are giving a speech, then I would be sitting here in a distance as anaudience I am in your public space. Now let us say I am very impressed by speech and Iwant to comment on it. I would come up to closer for conversation, I am in your socialspace, but if I come this close that is a little weird because I am a mere acquaintance andyou only let your family and close friends to enter your personal space and now this justcreeps you out, because I am now in the hugging distance, I am in your intimate spacewhile I barely know you. Now you are alarmed and maybe even offended.(Refer Slide Time: 16:33)Personal space interactions are actually 8 dimensional; there is voice volume: what is up,body heat, eye contact, smell, touching, gender position, body position and whether thespace encourages positive interaction.You know I have a friend, who works at the metropolitan museum of art. How do youlike a behind the scenes tour?Really you could do that?Easily.It would not be any trouble?Of course not.When do we go?How about right now?I am ready.Are you sure?Yes.Let me get my coat.All right, what do you say?I do not think so, and I have plans.How about you Jerry?I am sorry.Okay! come close.Maybe I will try and catch up with you.(Refer Slide Time: 17:36)(Refer Slide Time: 17:46)Firstly according to a 2009 study in nature, these invisible bubbles are based on theAmygdala which is deep within the brain, it controls aggression, fear and unsurprisinglysocial interaction. If the Amygdala is damaged, people may lose their understanding ofpersonal space and in our teenage years the size of the invisible bubbles that is surroundus are solidified they are highly dependent on culture. So, personal space in a publictransportation based urban area here in the United States would be vastly different thanthose in a car only rural area in Russia not to mention the difference between othercountries.(Refer Slide Time: 18:17)Next zone is of our personal space, which is somewhere from 18 to 48 inches. This is thedistance which we normally maintain at workplace during our office parties, friendlysocial gatherings etcetera. This is the buffer which allows us to continue our day to dayfunctioning along with others without intruding into each other’s bubble. During ourinteractions with acquaintances we send the signals of intimacy by enhancing this spaceor by shrinking it. This space can inflate or shrink and the range also decides the type ofattitude which we want to show towards other people.If we look at this photograph again, we find that two individuals in this group photo areat a closer distance to each other on the other hand the third person is maintainingslightly more distance. We can also make out that whereas the two people are atcomplete is with each other the third person does not have that easy relationship orassociation with them right now.We definitely have to look at the context in order to ascertain the complete meaning, butthis meaning becomes clear on the basis of the proxemics and related signals which arebeing sent. In the close phase of the personal space, we find that the distance is so, that aperson can hold another person or can extend the arm to touch a person.The far phase is slightly longer where if people extend their arms they may perhaps cantouch each other and it is this aspect which is used in haptics which we will discuss lateron this is also the distance which allows us to discuss topics of mutual interest.(Refer Slide Time: 20:23)In this video, our idea of the personal zone or personal space also becomes clear.The rules of personal space in public places etiquette experts suggest that human beingsshould keep 2 feet of space or 24 inches between them.Does this feel comfortable to you dear?(Refer Slide Time: 20:40)Yes good.This is what you are used to?I do not like it, when people are too close to me.Too close to when they are like just a couple.Is it is too close?Is it too close?No.Is this too close?That is close enough.Now, most of us know the unwritten rules of elevator etiquette, find the least crowdedspot keep your eyes forward and your mouth shut.But what happens when you break those rules? We took over this elevator securitycamera to find out. Despite plenty of room I moved uncomfortably close to other ridersmost simply stepped away. This guy even jumped, but several decided to hold theirground. I went toe to toe with this woman and she would not budge. And this womanwho stayed pressed against the back of the elevator may have remained calm, but she feltsomething very different.I had a moment where I was kind of wanting to push you or shove you or punch you orgrab you.I am glad you did not, thank you.Lucky for me, the average elevator ride last just 30 seconds. Next up the bus, where youare expected to choose an open seat away from other riders. We boarded this one with ahidden camera on a quiet day, there were plenty of empty seats, but I prefer to trypeoples patients instead.Can I get in here please?Where here?Yeah.Why here?I am sorry?Why do not you sit there?This woman was kind enough to point out the very obvious available seat right in frontof her while this guy made no objection to my sitting next to him though he did get off atthe very next stop. So, what is your general recommendation when it comes to personalspace?Excuse me miss.Nearly everyone we met seem to agree on how to cope with someone, who gets a littletoo close.To get too close to people you do not know?Probably step back.Keep a distance.But our unscientific social experiment revealed something more. When confined to smallspaces like in the elevator people were more prone to protect their territory, while thosewe approached in wide open spaces like at this park rarely moved at all and this womaneven struck up a conversation.How you doing?Hi.Because sometimes it is worth giving up a little personal space for pleasant company.(Refer Slide Time: 22:47)The third is the social space or the social zone, which is somewhere from 4 to 12 feet.We maintain this distance from strangers and those people with whom we are not veryeven familiar or even people we want to avoid. It is at this distance, that we have to beaware that the physical movements the kinesics aspects of our body become moreimportant as the exact details of facial expressions cannot perhaps be perceived. At thisdistance touch is also not possible and therefore, we find that in certain offices spacesthis is the designated space for certain tasks. For example, at the billing desks, at thereceptionist counter, it is the social space which is maintained.Whereas the kinesic features become important, The voice level also has to be louder inthis zone, it enables us to continue to work silently also in the presence of another personwithout appearing to be rude.(Refer Slide Time: 23:59)The fourth zone is the public zone or the public space, which is anything over 12 feet.While talking to a large group or while making a very formal presentation this is thespace. Whereas in the previous three zones the individual identity becomes important, inthe public space, the identity of the audience does not remain important for us. In thesesituations the identity of the speaker is definitely important for the audience, but theaudience are not responded to as individuals by the speaker in this situation.We automatically tend to adopt a formal style, where the selection of words is careful thephrasing of the sentences is also meticulous and a certain level of formal distanceautomatically creeps in our language, as well is in our body language and therefore, ourvoice, our gestures and our bodies stances become exaggeratedly communicative andthey are different from what they are in our intimate zone. The far phase is also thedistance that is automatically set around important public figures for safety reasons too.(Refer Slide Time: 25:21)So, what exactly are the Connotations of proxemics in our day to day life, as well as inour day to day professional performance? Personal space is precious. And unconsciouschanges in body behavior in crowded places take place as we have already discussed. Wemay avert eyes, for example, we may try to keep our face absolutely impulsive, we maytry to maintain a posture which is relatively rigid, when we are forced into thesesituations. At the same time if we encroach upon the personal space of another person wewould obviously be termed as obnoxious and rude people and therefore, these type ofencroachments should be avoided.The Connotations of proxemics are also important in space settings, as we will look atin further detail in our next discussions. The symbolic space divisions are artisticallycreated in restaurants and in office desk also. Even when the space is shared we find thatartificial boundaries are created to give an impression to the people, who are working inthe shared space to understand a particular space as belonging to them.So, that they can understand that their personal space that their intimate bubble is notbeing disturbed by others. And therefore, we find that the visual boundaries are createdeither by transparent barriers, which may be very small and tiny, or even by puttingobjects close to us on a table on which we are sitting to define this space which belongsto us. This is done sometimes subconsciously sometimes it is also done in a consciousmanner to send a particular message that this space belongs to us and that we do not wantit to be disturbed. So, boundaries are also marked by a space artifacts on desks and onwalls etcetera. For example, you would come across some people who put lot ofdecoration on their walls so, that the space can be designated as their own.These connotations we would discuss in further detail when we will look at a spacesettings in detail in our next modules discussions. If you look at this video theconnotations of his face become clear to us.It is considered accept the (Refer Time: 28:00) for commuter to fall asleep on theshoulder of a stranger. In New York, it is quite a different story. Of course, (Refer Time:28:27) depth.(Refer Slide Time: 28:42)(Refer Slide Time: 28:47)France is a relatively crowded society and the people experience greater physical contact.(Refer Slide Time: 28:57)The Germans tend to be more strict about the range of distance, that indicates intrusion.In the U S sticking ones head or body part into another’s house is usually not consideredas territory invasion as long as one feet are outside the house.(Refer Slide Time: 29:13)The Germans find such behaviors alarming. Germens generally feel that happen in opendoor can lead to intrusion, while Americans generally feel that keeping the door closethese to ostracism.Now, that we know that there can be differences even within the western world it is notsurprising that middle eastern nations different (Refer Time: 29:28) from the US.(Refer Slide Time: 29:26)Public spaces in Middle Eastern countries tend to be more crowded.(Refer Slide Time: 29:30)Physical contact and public spaces is more common than Middle Eastern countries.(Refer Slide Time: 29:38)Even when in public areas Americans keep a distance from other people to protectprivacy, yet in Middle Eastern nations, public areas are purely public.(Refer Slide Time: 29:45)And the person cannot claim private space.(Refer Slide Time: 29:51)(Refer Slide Time: 30:38)(Refer Slide Time: 30:44)(Refer Slide Time: 30:47)(Refer Slide Time: 30:52)As it is controlled in other aspects of body language, our understanding of a space is alsosubconsciously controlled in most of our interactions in our professional life. We can saythat shy people have bigger distances and people who are extroverts are keen to create asmaller distance between themselves and the other interactant.However, this desire to create a bigger distance should not be interpreted as necessarily anegative desire. Spacing and distances are also used consciously to establish certainmessages regarding authority as well as relationships, which we want to have withothers. Our personal space is sacred to us and irrespective of the culture, we find that thisaspect is sometimes abused by people who want to impose their authority on us.Whenever bullies try to intimidate others we find that the encroachment of personalspace takes place, whenever any law enforcement agency also wants to intimidate peoplethen we find that the encroachment of personal space takes place.In the same way it is true that sales people maintain their distances they never encroachupon your personal space, but at the same time they act in such a way that you have tokeep your fingers busy, this aspect of the sales people’s behavior we would take up whenwe will take up kinesics in detail.So, today we have discussed the basic four zones of proxemics as well as what exactlydo they mean and how precious they are to us. In our next discussion we would take upthe different types of cultures for example, high contact and low contact cultures as wellas the cultural aspects related with our understanding of proxemics.Thank you.