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Proxemics, the dynamics of human cultural space, spatial distance between individuals, is one of a number of nonverbal communications. The basic divisions or rings of proxemics are intimate (1-4”), personal (4-7” ), social (7”-24”), and public (>24”). Some other terms, such as consultative space, group space, etc. are also used in some studies. Hall, whose first observations were done in Europe, noted that Americans considered (4-7”) a proper space for conversation, and were uncomfortable when some European and Middle Eastern cultures kept a notably closer position (Italian, for example.) While the basic impulses come from physical, neurological needs for separation or companionship, which can be traced to Darwinian survival theory, the automatic, unconscious application of the cultural “rules” are a part of our cultural assimilation from birth. Also, proxemic practices can be conscious or unconscious; that is, we can deliberately “keep our distance” or we can unknowingly “send a signal” by our body language, which an expert could interpret psychologically. How and why proxemics differs among cultures is a complex study of its own.
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