How do others define personal space?

The definition of personal space is:

the physical space immediately surrounding someone, into which encroachment can feel threatening or uncomfortable.

I discovered that there are a lot of articles on why personal space is important, and it provides me an insight into the physical and psychological aspect of it.


Natalie Wolchover explains why we have personal space with this diagram:

Why Do We Have Personal Space?

Edward Hall’s research in 1960 proposes that we are enveloped by bubbles of four different sizes, and each apply to a different set of potential interlopers (a person who becomes involved in a place or situation where they are not wanted). The intimate space is the smallest zone, and extends 18 inches from our bodies. Only family, close friends and pets can enter. Then it is the personal space extending from 1.5 ft to 4 ft away. Strangers are forbidden in this zone, it is only the social space which they are allowed in, which extends 4-12ft away. Beyond that, is simply public space. This is just the average for Americans, but a lot of other factors that contribute too, like culture, individuality and context.

We begin to develop a sense of personal space at the age of 3 or 4. But personal space intrusions can be unavoidable, such as in a crowded tube. The psychologist Robert Sommer suggests we do it by temporarily dehumanizing those around us, avoiding eye contact and pretending they’re inanimate until the moment comes when we spot an escape route.


Humans mark territories, and we have marked the borders of our countries, the borders of our states, the borders of our cities, the borders of the suburbs we live in etc. We create invisible air borders around us too, certain distances reserved for certain people. This reminds me of when Robbie in Dragons’ Den mentioned how he sees personal space as something “opaque”, and that it would be interesting if I could make something solid to represent it instead.


Personal Space Zoning Distances

Personal space is important in our lives and daily encounters, so I really hope to create a successful piece that uses the idea of grotesque to push others away from your own space.



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