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Interpersonal Relationships and Personal Space: Research Review and Theoretical Model

Eric Sundstrom and Irwin Altman
Human Ecology
Vol. 4, No. 1 (Jan., 1976), pp. 47-67
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4602344
Page Count: 21
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Interpersonal Relationships and Personal Space: Research Review and Theoretical Model
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Abstract

This article reviews research concerning interpersonal distance as a function of interpersonal relationships, attraction, and reactions to spatial invasion. To integrate research findings, we propose a simple model, based on the idea that people seek an optimal distance from others that becomes smaller with friends and larger for individuals who do not expect to interact. The model describes comfort-discomfort as a function of interaction distance in three situations: interacting friends, interacting strangers, and strangers who do not expect interaction. These three personal space profiles are discussed in terms of qualifying variables, such as seated vs. standing interaction, sex composition of the dyad, intimacy of conversation topics, and situational variables.

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