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Human Ecology

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 47–67 | Cite as

Interpersonal relationships and personal space: Research review and theoretical model

  • Eric Sundstrom
  • Irwin Altman
Article

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.

Key words

personal space interaction distance spatial invasions 

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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric Sundstrom
    • 1
  • Irwin Altman
    • 2
  1. 1.University of TennesseeKnoxville
  2. 2.University of UtahSalt Lake City

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