The branch of body language, which studies a person’s personal space is proxemics.
Everyone has their personal space. Your house is personal space in terms of territory. Your favourite armchair is personal space in terms of possession. Even the air space that surrounds you is personal space.
In the picture above, the young man and old man are sitting apart. This is an indication that each have their own personal air space around them. Though, you can tell that the old man is a little uncomfortable, because he is facing away from the young man.
The air spaces around your body are regarded as your personal space and you will subconsciously be protective of them. You wouldn’t allow a stranger too close to you for instance.
[ An experiment on proxemics by some students ]
Watch the video above, it shows the reactions of people whose personal space was invaded.
Culture, Population and Density
This personal space that surrounds every person varies in size. The size of the personal space is determined by each person’s living conditions (space) when he grew up. Someone who grew up in city with crowded conditions will likely have a smaller personal space. In contrast, a person who grew up in the countryside will likely have a larger personal space.
If the country person were to meet the city person, they will both feel uncomfortable for different reasons. The country person will feel uncomfortable because the city person stands close to him. While the city person will feel awkward when the country person moves away to a more comfortable distance.
The general idea here is, someone who lives in densely populated area has lesser space and therefore feel comfortable with smaller personal space.
Watch this space…