Reviewing Research and Making Connections
Ask: What was the topic of research? Who was studied in the research? What was the research question that was answered by the information in the article?
The research topic I chose was the differences of what personal space looks like in different parts of the world. Researchers conducted a study of 9000 people living in 42 different countries. By studying these subjects, they were able to determine what people in which parts of the world prefer less or more space when communicating with others.
Research: What research methods were used? Summarize the process researchers used to collect data.
For this particular study, researchers used a survey method to gather information. Because the believe personal space boundaries are determined by geographical locations, they divided areas of the world into contact and non-contact cultures to conduct the survey. Contact cultures (South America, Southern Europe, and Middle East) stand closer and touch more than non-contact cultures (North America, Northern Europe, and Asia). Each participant was given a sheet with two figures (A&B) on each end of the sheet and asked how far should figure A stand from figure B and if that amount of space should change when dealing with colleagues and friends. The results for three categories; 1. Social Distance (Stranger) 2. Personal distance (Acquaintance) 3. Intimate Distance (Close Person) were then averaged.
Learn: What were the key findings of the research? What conclusion was drawn from the research?
People in Saudi Arabia tend to stand farther from their friends than Argentinians do strangers. Hungarians, however, require at least an arms space from everyone! Generally speaking across the world, women prefer to have more personal space from strangers than men. Elders also tend to stand farther away. Studies also show those living in warmer climates do not mind less distance than those in the cold.
Do: What follow-up question would you now like to ask and research based on this article? Why did you choose this follow-up question?
Because babies are not usually born with the understanding of personal space, I am now interested in knowing whether these are practices that are taught to young children of the different areas or if they are learned behaviors as they get older. If these are learned behaviors, are they reprimanded for being too close in non-contact culture settings? I chose this question because I am interested in learning the different customs children across the world are taught. I am also interested in knowing what is the reaction of non-contact cultures when contact cultures communicate to them with less space between.
Make Connections: How can you apply the key research findings to your own life? What are two additional questions you have about society based on this research?
In applying the findings in my own life, I now have a better understanding of contact and non-contact cultures and their regions. When comparing the research results with the US, it seems the southern states are more contact cultured that the northern, just as southern regions are more contact than northern in the study. Social structure often guides a person’s behavior. Does the location of a person’s social structure contribute to whether he/or she is more contact or non? Does one who is more financially stable prefer more personal space than one who is not? Or vice versa?
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