Chapter 2: Vocabulary Skills
Lab Activity 10: Vocabulary Skills
To use context clues and word parts to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words in a textbook selection.
Step 1: Read the excerpt "Personal Space," from a college psychology textbook. Then respond to the items that follow it.
To help assert their individuality and maintain a sense of personal control, human beings generally try to establish appropriate degrees of personal space. Personal space is the area around an individual that the person considers private and that is enclosed by an invisible psychological boundary. Encroachment on that space causes displeasure and often withdrawal.
The size of your personal space can change, depending on the situation and the people near you. For example, you may walk arm in arm with a family member, but you will avoid physical contact with a stranger. You may stand close to a friend and whisper in her ear, but you will keep a certain distance from an elevator operator or a store clerk.
Anthropologist Edward Hall suggested that personal space is a mechanism by which people communicate with others. He proposed that people adhere to established norms of personal space that are learned in childhood. Hall observed that the use of personal space also varies from culture to culture. In the United States, especially in suburban and rural areas, people are used to large homes and generous personal space. In Japan, on the other hand, people are used to small homes that provide little personal space. In general, Western cultures insist on a fair amount of space for people, reserving proximity for intimacy and close friends, while Arab and some Eastern cultures allow much smaller distances between strangers.
To explain the concept of personal space in the United States, Hall classified four spatial zones, or distances, used in social interactions with other people: the intimate, the personal, the social, and the public. An intimate distance (from 0 to 18 inches) is maintained between people who have great familiarity with one another. It is an acceptable distance for comforting someone who is hurt or for interactions between lovers, physicians and patients, and athletes. The closeness enables someone to hold another person, look into the other's eyes, and hear the other's breath. An acceptable distance between friends and acquaintances is personal distance (1.5 to 4 feet); this is the distance used for most social interactions. At 1.5 to 2 feet, someone might tell a secret to a close friend; at 2 feet, people can walk and talk together; at 2 to 4 feet, a person can maintain good contact with a coworker without seeming too personal or too impersonal. Social distance (4 to 12 feet) is used for business and for interactions with strangers. At 4 to 6 feet, people are close enough to communicate their ideas effectively but far enough away to remain separated. Physical barriers, such as a desk to separate a clerk, receptionist, or boss from the people with whom the person interacts, may control personal space in the social zone. Public distance (12 to 25 feet or more) minimizes personal contact. It is the distance maintained between politicians and audiences, teachers and students, and actors or musicians and their audiences. Public distance is sufficiently great to eliminate personal interaction between individuals.
Of course, determining personal space is a tricky endeavor, and researchers are trying to sort out distance estimations for adults and children and for men and women.
Lefton & Brannon, Psychology, 8th ed., pp. 635636.
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