Behavioural and experiential variations in ‘personal space’: A selfcategorization account David Novelli University of Sussex John Drury University of Sussex Stephen Reicher University of St Andrews Carly Fenn University of Sussex Symposium: The positive crowd: Psychological and social dimensions. 15th General Meeting of the European Association of Experimental Social Psychology, Opatija, Croatia, June 10-14th 2008 Crowding 1: the negatives Focus has been almost exclusively on the potential for negative consequences. 1. Animal studies: high levels of stress, abnormal sexual activity, increased aggression, & cannibalism (Calhoun, 1962, 1976). 2. Prison studies: high blood pressure, increased displays of negative affect, & higher death rates for inmates in crowded dorms (Paulus, Cox, McCain, & Chandler, 1975; Paulus, McCain, & Cox, 1978). 3. Lab studies: participants’ cognitive capabilities (Worchel & Teddlie, 1976), and social relations (Griffith & Veitch, 1971) deteriorated when exposed to ‘crowding’. 4. Link between urban overcrowding and increased stress and aggression (Leyhausen, 1965). Crowding 2: the positives • However, review articles suggested that the experimental findings and definitions of crowding were inconsistent: “…it should be determined whether or not some individuals may seek, even prefer, crowded situations.” (Lawrence, 1974, p. 718) “Crowding may be pleasurable as well as painful. Some people thrill to the excitement of the crowded city. Other things being equal, a large crowd is a good indication at the theatre, stadium, beach, or party.” (Proshansky, Ittleson, & Rivlin, 1976, p. 179). • Examples of collective joy evident throughout history: religious rituals, carnivals, festivals, concerts, nightclubs, raves, and sporting events (Ehrenreich, 2007) • Neville & Reicher (2008): Participants pleased to experience close proximity in crowds when social identity is salient. • Lack of quantitative evidence Personal space approach to crowding Personal space: “…an area with invisible boundaries surrounding a person’s body into which intruders may not come.” (Sommer, 1969, p. 26) Intrusions into a person’s accepted area of ‘personal space’ can influence whether they have a negative experience of crowding (e.g. Evans & Wener, 2007) How big is a personal space zone? Some variables which can influence personal space: 1. Culture (Hall, 1966). 2. Location (Cochran, Hale, & Hissam, 1984). 3. Gender role (Uzzell & Horne, 2006). These variables simply provide a list, rather than a theory of variability in personal space. Intra-individual variation is left largely unexplained. Crowding on the underground V SCT approach to personal space/crowding - Whether a personal or social identity is salient in a particular context will determine whether relationships with others are perceived to be interpersonal, intra-group, or inter-group. - When interacting with in-group member/s, they will be perceived as an extension of the self. When interactions are inter-group, others will be distinct from the self. - Therefore, less personal space should be required when contexts are intra-group, rather than inter-group. Close proximity should be experienced more positively in intra-group contexts. Minimal group identity - Participants told past researchers identified two distinct cognitive categories – dot ‘over-estimators’ and dot ‘underestimators’. - Told that we were interested in the communication styles of category members when interacting with members of same or different category. - Participants asked to estimate the number of dots in a series of patterns – then randomly assigned to over/under estimator condition. Study 1 Hypotheses: 1. Significantly less personal space required when an anticipated interaction is intra-group, rather than inter-group. 2. No difference between ‘under-estimators’’ and ‘over-estimators’’ personal space. Participants: Female undergraduate students from the University of Sussex (n = 80) invited to participate in a ‘communication study’. Study 1 – procedure (a) - Participants arrived at lab and were informed that they would be having a discussion with another participant. Told ‘other’ had already started the experiment in one of two cubicles. - Participants asked to sit in second cubicle and briefed about ‘cognitive categories’. - Having completed computer-based estimation tasks, participants informed ‘other’ participant had gone to look for her lost phone but would hopefully return shortly. - Participants assigned to category (half ‘over-estimators’, half ‘underestimators’). - Participants informed of ‘other’s’ group membership. Study 1 – procedure (b) -Experimenter led participant through to ‘discussion’ room. - Informed participant that ‘other’ participant had set herself up before rushing off to find her phone - Participant asked to go into ‘discussion’ room, take a chair, and set herself up however she felt most comfortable. - ‘Other’ participant’s chair was set up in room with a jacket, bag and bottle of water. - Experimenter left lab, waited outside for several minutes, then reentered to reveal true nature of the study and to measure the distance between the chairs. Study 1 Results Mean distance (inches) Proximity preferences for participants anticipating intragroup and inter-group interactions 60 55 50 45 40 35 30 Intra-group Inter-group Condition -Intra-group participants sought significantly less personal space than inter-group participants (F (1, 76) = 7.06, p = .010). - There was not a significant effect of the participants’ identification as a dot ‘over’ or ‘under-estimator’ on their personal space (F(1, 72) = 0.29, p = NS). Study 2 Investigating the experiential dimension of ‘personal space’. Proximity and group context were used as independent variables. Hypothesis: Participants interacting with an ingroup confederate will have a more positive experience than those interacting with an outgroup confederate, especially when interaction distance is ‘close’. Participants: Female sixth-form students (n = 60) Study 2 – procedure (a) -Participants given cover story about dot ‘overestimators’ and ‘under-estimators’. - Told that they will be taking part in an interview-style role-play so that their interaction style can be observed. - Interview is actually with a confederate. - Participants assigned to category and told of confederate’s category membership. Study 2 – procedure (b) -Participant asked to take a seat in ‘interview’ room, in which the confederate was already seated. - Participant’s chair was either ‘close’ to (34 inches), or ‘far away’ from (54 inches) confederate’s chair. - Participant always assigned to role of ‘interviewee’. - Following interview, participant (and confederate) completed questionnaire, which included ‘experience’ items. Study 2 Results - Significant main effect of distance on ‘experience’ (F (1, 56) = 14.05, p < .001) - Significant main effect of categorization on ‘experience’ (F (1, 56) = 10.76, p = .002) - IMPORTANT: Mean ‘experience’ score for the the inter-group ‘near’ condition was not above the mid-point of the scale. It was for all three of the other conditions (to a significant degree). Conclusion - Findings from two studies support a self-categorization approach to personal space. - Behavioural and experiential dimensions of personal space dependant on perceived group membership of self and other. - These findings offer quantitative support to the qualitative evidence provided in the previous presentation (Neville & Reicher, 2008) - For the first time, we have a possible unifying theory for personal space, and hence for crowding behaviour/experience variability. References Calhoun, J. B. (1962). Population density and social pathology. Scientific American, 206, 139-148. Calhoun, J. B. 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