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Waiting for a Phone: Intrusion on Callers Leads to Territorial Defense

R. Barry Ruback, Karen D. Pape and Philip Doriot
Social Psychology Quarterly
Vol. 52, No. 3 (Sep., 1989), pp. 232-241
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2786718
Page Count: 10
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Waiting for a Phone: Intrusion on Callers Leads to Territorial Defense
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Abstract

Although most research shows that temporary occupants of public territories are likely to flee if the area is intruded on, other research suggests that temporary occupants will defend the area if a specific task must be performed there. In this study we observed callers at public telephones to determine whether they would flee or persist after an intrusion. Further, we tested whether distraction-caused interference with task performance rather than territoriality could explain the results. Three correlational studies suggested that callers spent more time at the phone if they were intruded on. An experiment indicated that people stayed longer at the phone after an intrusion primarily because someone was waiting to use the phone rather than solely because of the presence of an intruder. Overall, the results of five studies suggested that 1) counter to normative prescriptions, callers defend their telephones against intruders and 2) although distraction affects length of calls, there is an independent effect for territoriality.

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