As being a very important part of the human’s behavior, Personal Space and eye contact attracted a lot of scientists and research institutions. As Jeff Hughes and Morton Goldman (1978) have shown that how variations in eye contact and of experimental confederate affected the violation of personal space. Different people have different definitions to the term ‘Personal Space’. Personal Space may be denned as the area individuals maintain around themselves into which others cannot intrude without arousing discomfort (Hayduk, 1978).
Personal Space is often described as a bubble of space surrounding a person. Buchanan, Goldman & Juhnke (1977) defines Personal Space as ‘a physical space surrounding an individual which, when intruded upon, generates an observable reaction of discomfort or flight’. The first factor to be considered that influences a person’s personal space is body position. Whether a person is sitting down or standing up can greatly affect their personal space. Hartnett, Bailey and Hartley (1974) claims that “for both the short and tall Os, the subjects were approached closer in the sitting position.
From a territorial point of view, it could be that people believed that they are not really invading the personal space of others when they were in a position that seemed less threatening, which is sitting. The second factor to be considered that affects personal space is physical disability. Wright (1983) suggests that bad attitudes and perceptions about people with physical disabilities are highly retentive, and cannot be easily removed or changed. Kleck (1968) has also confirmed that people tend to give more personal space in social interactions to people with physical disabilities as compared to people without physical disabilities.
A variable that has not been frequently manipulated in personal space research is eye contact. As seen in field experiments conducted by Buchanan, et al. (1977), males generally prefer to violate the personal space of another male who did not offer much eye contact, rather than another male who offered direct eye contact. Another experiment conducted by him shows that “female subjects preferred to violate the personal space of a female confederate who established eye contact with them”. It is also seen that females tend to avoid invading the personal space of males who had direct eye contact with them.
However, females would rather violate the personal space of a male who are smiling at them and gazed directly at them, as compared to a male who had their backs turned. And according to Argyle and Dean, the eye contact is significantly reduced as proximity is increased and their finding that eye contact unpleasant or is to be avoided as proximity increase suggests that variations in the way a person gazes at others could affect intrusions into that person’s personal space. From these readings, it is expected that when two people approach each other with eye contact, the personal space between them will be bigger than without eye contact.