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  Larch 498 Autumn 2002

Introduction to Environmental Psychology
Department of Landscape Architecture

  Mini Project 4: Personal Space Experiment

Due Date: Thursday, November 14


This project is designed to give you first-hand experience in studying the phenomenon of personal space. It is also a chance to put some Environmental Psychology theories to the test. And give you a better sense of the nature of personal space, how it functions, and what people to do protect their boundaries.


For this project, you should select at least five people and examine their personal space needs.
There are several ways in which you can conduct this field experiment. Pick from the following options: (1) vary the interpersonal distance between you and your subjects (both too near and too far); or (2) invade others’ personal space. If you are shy, you may wish to try (3) recruit a friend who will act as your “confederate” (scientific term for someone who is in on the real purpose of the study) and who will invade other’s personal space for you while you observe and record the reactions they get.

You may wish to vary your sample by sex, age, and other demographic characteristics to determine if there are any differences according to categories. You may also include in your sample someone you know well as well as strangers to compare reactions.


Once you have conducted your experiment, write up your results. The paper should be typed, double-spaced, and be at least 5 pages long. This does not include any worksheets or references. Your paper should have the following components:

Introduction: Begin your paper with a brief overview of the concept of personal space, what it is and how it works according to researchers.

Methods: Then, explain how you conducted your experiment on personal space. Did you vary your interpersonal distance with other people yourself or did you or a confederate invade people’s personal space? Explain step by step what you did to conduct your study. Who comprised your sample? Where did you conduct the experiment? How exactly did you proceed?

Results: What findings did you get from your experiment? Document people’s reactions. If you used the Personal Space Worksheet, explain the findings that you recorded on it. Do you notice any consistencies in your findings?

Could you tell when an interpersonal distance was not comfortable for a person? If so, what did they do? In the case of invasions, what strategies did people employ to protect their personal space?

Discussion: What, if anything, can you conclude about personal space based on the results of your experiment? Describe your results in light of Edward Hall’s zones of interpersonal distance. Does your experiment support the notion of personal space zones? Were people’s reactions unusual or what you expected in light of the existing research on personal space?


Download data collection sheet

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