Personal Space

Most animals have a certain air space around their bodies that they claim as their personal space. How far the space extends is mainly dependent on how crowded were the conditions in which the animal was raised. A lion raised in the remote regions of Africa may have a territorial air space with a radius of fifty kilometres or more, depending on the density of the lion population in that area, and it marks its territorial boundaries by urinating or defecating around them. On the other hand, a lion raised in captivity with other lions may have a personal space of only several metres, the direct result of crowded conditions.

Like the other animals, man has his own personal portable 'air bubble' that he carries around with him and its size is dependent on the density of the population in the place where he grew up. This personal zone distance is therefore culturally determined. Where some cultures, such as the Japanese, are accustomed to crowding, others prefer the 'wide open spaces' and like to keep their distance. However, we are mainly concerned with the territorial behaviour of people raised in Western cultures.

Status can also have an effect on the distance at which a person stands in relation to others and this will be discussed in a later chapter.

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