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Defining Personal Space: This Is The Distance Other People Must Maintain From Your Body!

If you find yourself becoming uncomfortable in the company of others, chances are it is because they are not respecting your personal space as much as needed. This can happen at any time and place.

For example, when at work, your coworker could be leaning too close to you as you show them a document on your screen, or you could be at a party and someone you know through a friend decides that it’s okay to get closer. No matter what the context, whenever someone invades your personal physical space, you are bound to get uncomfortable.

Your personal space can be invaded anywhere, whether you are work or at a coffee shop

However, you should never feel bad about feeling uncomfortable in such a scenario, because there is a very scientific reason why we feel this way. According to Michael Graziano, who is a professor in the field of psychology as well as neuroscience at the prestigious Princeton University, having personal space is a defense mechanism instilled within every human being, and whenever someone or something gets too close, our body becomes alert to respond accordingly to it.

Understanding Personal Space

Dr. Graziano has also explained that our brain has specific regions which are constantly working to define our personal space. One of these regions is called parietal cortex, and it is responsible for processing all the sensory information received by our brain.

Another region is the premotor cortex, and this one generates all the movements we make. According to the doctor, whenever we have an object in close proximity, these regions of our brain start firing neurons to generate an appropriate response like squinting or jumping away. Basically, these regions help us keep ourselves away from any harm.

Even if the person sitting next to you does not mean you any harm, you are still bound to feel uncomfortable if there is little to no distance between you and them

As far as the brain is concerned, it manages our surrounding space by mapping it out as well as defining its proximity to our body. This enables us to move around without hitting anything or anyone even though we are not consciously looking at them.

By building up this map, our brain allows us to move much faster. Our ability to navigate through our surroundings while keeping our personal space intact also enables us to register when someone else’s personal space is being disturbed, which prompts us to help them in whichever capacity we can.

Defining Personal Space

The easiest way to know the limits of your personal space is to define them according to four different settings. The first one is called an intimate space, and this one measures around 18 inches from the periphery of our body.

You can let the people close to you within this space if needed. The second one is called personal space, and this can be anywhere between 1 and a half feet up to 4 feet and is alright for friends and also acquaintances.

There are some spaces where you cannot avoid sitting close to other people, such as an airplane

Then come social and public spaces. For your social space, know that it is okay to feel uncomfortable even if someone is within 12 feet of your body, and hence you want this space to range in between 4 to 12 feet. Beyond the 12 feet limit is fine, and this is called public space.

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