Proxemics research papers

It is an important means by which communication, of the intended message is carried out. It is also used to signal status and power. It is exploited to identify the ranking of the individual encountered and to regulate one's own behaviour towards that individual. Three variables seem to influence the operation of olfaction in interpersonal communication. The quality of olfaction is decided upon by the distance between the individuals, strength of olfaction and the medium by which olfaction is carried out.

When individuals encounter one another they are either repelled from one another and they or at least one of them try to be as far away as possible from one another, or they maintain the distance they are in. If bad odour is smelt, attempts to be away from one another are instantaneous. Strength of the scent used or the strength of the scented hair oil used also indicates the finesse of the individual using the scent.

Rural and' lower class? Olfaction is suppressed in the upper classes, as well as among the educated, whereas olfaction is ignored in others. Using scents in the lower classes is not for the suppression of body odour, but is treated as yet another ornament meant for the occasion.

There are scents prescribed as part of worship. Note also that odour is communicative of one's own identity of professions, etc. Farmers, fishermen, domestic servants, scavengers, all have their own specific odour derived from their avocation and this odour communicates their identity and regulates the behaviour of those who encounter them, many a time creating a distance between individuals. Many a time the same odour also acts as a unifying force among members practising the same profession, thus closing the distance between members of the same group.

Suppression, reduction or elimination of odour is not, however, absent. Suppression is resorted to as part of purificatory processes for an auspicious occasion, through baths, wearing fresh washed or new clothes, etc. But using a scent is not generally visualized as a mechanism for suppression. As investigators of olfaction as a means of nonverbal communication, we have to look for 'boundaries and whether they have been crossed or not. Everyone is surrounded by a small cloud or haze of smell varying in size according to physical setting, emotional state, and culturally prescribed norms.

The investigator must determine at what point the smell is unmistakable and whether this fits into the total proxemic posture. Usually there is little ambiguity. Most transactions occur either inside or outside these boundaries' Hall, Voice loudness is another interpersonal nonverbal communication variable.

Voice loudness is controlled by distance, relationship between the parties involved and the situation or subject being discussed. With voice level we judge distance. We will whisper in close quarters and shout when the addressee is not at a distance. The manipulation of voice loudness is also a socially prescribed code for women, servants and inferiors. Socialization processes control the way we view voice loudness in different situations and for different purposes. Children are taught how to modulate voice loudness. That voice loudness clearly reveals the distance involved is obvious in many cultures.

That voice loudness is also perceived as a cultural trait is seen in most Indian communities. Speakers of most Indian languages have a tendency to term speakers of a language other than their own as noisy people, speaking in great volume which also includes harshness. Some language communities pride themselves in being given to the habit of speaking with voice loudness; here such loudness is related to some virtue, such as being always happy, open and frank, etc. Within a single language community also, members of one caste may call members of another caste as noisy people.

Within and across language groups, there are always occasions wherein loudness is not only allowed but also demanded. Thus, voice loudness, which is a sure variable to reveal distance involved between individuals engaged in communication with one another, is also an important nonverbal variable to communicate the mood of the speaker.

While in natural contexts voice loudness is resorted to in distance, in conditions of closeness where distance is to be created between individuals, one of the individuals may resort to voice loudness. Where Voice loudness is demanded in natural circumstances, distance may be closed by resorting to soft voice or distance. Slow and soft voice is always related to dignity in behaviour. Also note that reduction in loudness of voice coupled with a rigidly formal disposition, sometimes reduced to mumbling, can create distance between individuals when there is no real physical distance involved.

In essence, loudness in voice creates distance and softness in voice closes distance; the reversal of this phenomenon is resorted to, to create distance where there is no physical distance involved and to close distance where there is physical distance involved. At another level, combination of softness with other variables, such as a formal disposition does create distance where there is in reality no distance involved. Use of language style also is resorted to in creating and closing distances. This is different from the voice loudness. Here use of language style means the use of certain styles in which the actual content of the message may not directly influence the creation and closing down of distances, but the manner of speaking may reveal the distance or closeness between individuals engaged in communication.

What one talks about and the manner of talking are linked with distance and situation. Joos lists five styles, each used for a different situation. They are: intimate, casual, consultative, formal and frozen. Intimate style is generally adopted when distance is closed, whereas the formal and frozen styles are resorted to, to create distance even where there is no distance in reality involved. The formal and frozen styles can be adopted even when there is actual distance involved so that further distance can be created.

In Tamil, there is a clear distinction between written and colloquial Tamil. However in written communication where the parties engaged in communication are not physically present simultaneously in the same place, use of the colloquial style communicates several types of information: the background of the correspondents as regards education, status of the correspondents, and the level of intimacy between the correspondents.

In the last case, there is some consequence for proxemic behaviour. The distance in reality is closed between the correspondents by a resort to colloquial style in the last case. Likewise adopting a very formal and frozen style of presenting matter in writing creates distance between the correspondents. We deal with eye and its use in nonverbal communication in a separate chapter. We shall see briefly here only those salient features of vision that have a direct bearing on proxemic behaviour between individuals, Vision is a primary means of judging distance in interpersonal communication.

The culture specifies at what, at whom and how one looks as well as the amount of communication that takes place via the eye'.

There are at least three strategies adopted in creating and closing distance using the vision medium. This shutting up of one's eyes, revealed in not recognizing the individual encountered, is a deliberate act of creating distance. Likewise even when an individual is further away and is in a crowd, one may recognize the individual and manifestly exhibit this recognition of the individual.

This is closing the distance gap where there is in reality physical distance involved. A politician or a swamiji or any public figure may see the people around with a survey look keeping his palms folded to greet the people to bridge the distance between him and the people. The distance between him and the people is due not because of real space but because of his inability to mingle with people for various reasons. Even when he is close to the people in physical distance, his status creates a distance between him and the people, and this distance is sought to be bridged by the survey look, and other accompanying devices.

In the interpersonal communication, a proper blend of looking at, the individual and looking away from the individual is demanded. Turning away for most of the time from the individual, who is before one, in face to communication, would mean creating distance between the individuals engaged in communication. There is yet another interesting phenomenon which clearly reveals the dynamics of vision in seeing things far away as close and in treating things which are close as things far away or nonexistent even.

One recognizes an individual or object at a distance and rushes to the individual or object recognized, in the process tripping over things or stepping on individuals in the way. Hall has included under thermal factors mainly heat gain and loss which influence the structuring of the close distances. While the sensing of heat from another body can result in a movement either towards or away from the source, the cultural factors in Indian societies do permit such closeness only in crowded places and transport vehicles.

Both males and females always try to avoid such heat flow from one to another, if space could be created between those who are close to one another. Where no space could be created, there is always an attempt to adjust the position even while maintaining the same distance in space. Perspiration is another factor that is caused quite frequently in Indian contexts when individuals are close to one another in crowded places 'including transport vehicles.

Hence, the communicative potential of thermal factors is limited in Indian contexts. Touching as a proxemic behaviour in social groups is already discussed. In interpersonal communication, touching as a proxemic behaviour differs from sex to sex. Generally speaking, heterosexual touch is prohibited among strangers. Even among members of the same sex, touching behaviour is governed by social status, attire, age, and familiarity.

Touching is generally resorted to for calling the attention of the individual who is beckoned through touch. It is also resorted to as a form of worship and of begging the pardon when one steps on the other unawares. Touching is also employed for comforting, to show the closeness of relationship between individuals. One also pushes the other forcefully to make way for oneself. While bodily contact in the crowd is tolerated, the general tendency is towards avoidance of touching behaviour between both members of the same sex and across sexes.

Thus touching as a nonverbal mode of communication has certain limitations and is restricted to certain specified spheres only in the general Indian context. The communicational contexts, in Tamil society, may be broadly classified into two types, family and extended family setting, and public places Thirumalai, While touching as a nonverbal behaviour in public setting, as already pointed out, is to be generally avoided, and is tolerated because of necessities and compulsions, touching as a nonverbal communication behaviour is regulated in certain ways within the family and extended family setting.

The regulation is generally based on the placement of the individual on the marital line, actual and potential, or on the non-marital line Thirumalai, The kinship line from which the speaker communicator , his own brothers and sisters have or can have or could have had their spouses is viewed as the marital line.

Note that marriage is permissible only within the caste and that marriage takes place generally between members of families already related to one another.

The proxemics lexicon: A first approximation

Members of the same caste, but not related to one another, are placed on the marital or non-marital line through intermediary families. Touching as a nonverbal communicative behaviour is permissible across sexes of members of non-marital line only. This touching behaviour is also generally avoided among adults. Thus, touching as a communicative behaviour is allowed neither in public places setting nor in family setting, across sexes, generally speaking.

The communicative status of touching, thus, is to be explored in the purely intimate personal plane, both among the members of the same sex and across sexes. Touching, rather avoidance of it as a communicative behaviour, is to be seen at the plane of societally prescribed behaviour, more as behaviour guided and regulated by caste institution.

A clear case of touching as a communicative behaviour in its ontogenetic base is seen in the use of the same by mothers in Tamil society.


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The alienation process between mother and offspring as biological organisms commences with the progressive lessening and loss of physical contact between the two, with emergence of language playing a more important link in the social relationship between the two. The just born child does not respond physically to the utterances of the mother in the initial stages. The physical contact between the two carries a greater load of communication between them. The utterances of the mother are more or less one-way communication at least for a brief period.

Soon, even at the babbling stage, mother's utterances come to have a communicative role and content. There is syncretic understanding of the content and paralinguistic features; verbal utterances come to communicate with children. The functions of mother's utterances are manifold, but in essence they appear to have a catcatalytic, instigating and supporting role for physical, mental, social and linguistic maturation.

One of the important factors that not only influence the speed and manner of language acquisition but also the content and result of socialization processes is the linguistic and nonlinguistic nonverbal behaviour of mother. The influence is better understood by a study of mother's endearments and other utterances, not for their role in the emergence of linguistic structures but for their role in the nonlinguistic behaviour including nonverbal behaviour of child in current as well as latter day performance.

Mother's endearments and related utterances have to be studied under three periods: the first period in which the child has no or very little language; the second period in which the child engages herself in the acquisition of language and a syncretic understanding of both linguistic and nonlinguistic behaviour; and the third behaviour in which the child has mastered language and has some explicit but not complete understanding of the environment.

All these utterances function as endearments and all these generally accompany or are accompanied by physical contact between mother and child.

Proxemics in Professional Situations (Practice Run)

The second period is characterized by the processes which should be considered an extension of the fourth characteristic of the first period. The alienation process between mother and offspring as biological organisms commences with the progressive lessening and loss of physical contact between the two, with language coming to play a more important link in the social relationship between the two. Touch as a deliberate medium of communication is employed in certain commercial activities also. In these contexts, touch of fingers of individuals is used as a secret code of communication.

For example, the brokers in the cattle fairs in Tamilnadu negotiate the prices of various heads of cattle using this secret code. Hall identifies the following positions in this regard:. While the last three positions are generally found and expected in the rural areas for public places setting in transactions between different sexes, positions just outside body contact distance, within easy touching distance with only forearm extended, and just outside forearm distance elbow room , within touching or grasping distance with arms fully extended are all allowed, with varying communicative intent in the urban setting.

Status and intimacy act in opposite directions as regards distance, generally speaking.

Core Concepts and Assumptions

This is valid both in rural and urban contexts, as regards public places setting. A position within body contact distance certainly reveals a greater intimacy between the individuals; the position just outside body contact distance also reveals closer intimacy between individuals. The physical distance between communicators indicates the type of relationship they have. Body angles, touch and eye contact further reveal the familiarity between people.

Associated Data

Hall believed that proxemics could not only help illuminate relationships and communication goals, but also explain other cultural and anthropological phenomena, such as the organization of towns and living spaces. Territories are designed to provide comfort for their owners and produce anxiety within intruders. Even color is used to identify certain kinds of territories and the behavior expected from those who enter them. For instance, a bright purple sofa in a small apartment would encourage a fun, carefree attitude, while a pristine white sofa in the same apartment would indicate an owner who prefers formality and restraint.

Secondary Territory — a structured place where entry is reserved for particular individuals and certain norms are expected, such as a school, office or church. Public Territory — an open space where anyone can come and go, such as a park or shopping mall. Territories can overlap. For the homeowner, the home is a primary territory. Researchers have conducted experiments that prove whenever an animal experiences a violation of its personal territory, it reacts by either running away or attacking the intruder.

The same holds true for humans in most cases. The exception comes in instances where people voluntarily give up their personal space to, for example, ride a crowded train or elevator. Research has shown that humans can put aside their personal discomfort to achieve certain goals day after day i. The key, researchers found, is withholding eye contact from others.


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Those who averted their eyes while in close physical contact with strangers exhibited markedly less anxiety. Thus, eye contact plays a significant role in proxemics research.

Much more than documents.

For the purposes of understanding how different people communicate non-verbally, Edward Hall separated cultures into two basic categories: contact and non-contact. In contact cultures, physical touching between acquaintances is permitted and even necessary for establishing interpersonal relationships. For non-contact cultures, touching is reserved for only the most intimate acquaintances.

Examples include the U. British linguist and businessman Richard D. Lewis later expanded upon this idea by outlining three specific types of cultures based upon communication styles:. Linear-active — cool, logical and decisive non-contact. Speakers tend to be direct and occasionally impatient, but otherwise remain reserved and deal mostly in facts. Multi-active — warm and impulsive contact.

Proxemics - Communication - Oxford Bibliographies

Speakers communicate enthusiastically, readily express emotion and prefer personal stories to facts. They tend to interrupt during conversation and display impatience more openly. Examples include Brazil, Mexico and Greece. Click the button above to view the complete essay, speech, term paper, or research paper. Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly. Hall, who has pioneered the study of spatial communication. Proxemics refers to the use of space in communication: "the study of how man unconsciously structures microspace-the distance between men in conduct of daily transaction, the organization of space in his houses and buildings, and ultimately the layout of his towns.

In different cultures various senses assume importance Research Papers words 1. A clear explanation of spatial relations is easily understood with the study of proxemics. So what is proxemics. Well the term proxemics came from E. Hall, a researcher in Proxemics is the study of the nature, degree, and effect of the spatial separation individuals naturally maintain as in various social and interpersonal situations and of how this separation relates to environmental and cultural factors Free Essays words 2.

Nonverbal communication is essential for pleasant service encounters to take place and ensure the growth of popularity for a corporation. This assignment will look at four different points of nonverbal communication; kinesics, paralanguage, proxemics and physical appearance in that respective order.

Further below, each of these will be explored in depth and explained why they are needed in the hospitality workplace Research Papers words 2. This model is organized by Hall as a set of patterns divided into three different cultural levels: the intracultural, the precultural, and the microcultural. Research Papers words 4. Proxemics behavior is not just one form of self-defense, is also a part of the unconscious that controls the behavior and the interaction between humans.

Personal space is essential for people because alerts when somebody is too close that could cause some damage to another. Some studies try to explain how proxemics behavior works and what factors can influence it. For example, previous experiments found out that people more distance when they are front of tall people than when they are front of short people I created a balance between what happened and how it impacted me.

I aimed for the first part to be more narrative and for the second part topical part to be more inspirational lessons learned.


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I used a hook in the introduction and provided a preview of the speech while keeping it very concise as to not waste time and shift attention away from the rest of my content. I followed with two distinct section separated by a clear transitional statement It is not communication with words, but we use nonverbal communication when we talk.