interpersonal zones

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A typology of significantly different ranges of physical distance between people in face-to-face interaction (see also proxemics). Edward T. Hall outlines four main ranges based on ‘sensory shifts’ (e.g. from communication in whispers to shouting): intimate (18 inches or less), personal (1.5 to 4 feet), social (4 to 12 feet), and public (12 feet or more). The intimate zone is that of parents and children, lovers, spouses, and partners; the personal zone is that of close friends; the social zone is that of friends and co-workers; the public zone is that of strangers and officials. Hall notes that the intimate zone is an area which can easily feel ‘invaded’ and that 30 feet is the distance that is automatically set around important public figures. These zones are based on North American norms, and such zonings are culturally variable (see high-contact cultures; low-contact cultures). They can also be related to shot sizes in photography and film. See also personal space; territoriality.

Subjects: Media Studies.

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