It happens all the time – you are standing on a bus, listening to music, when you feel someone’s breath on the back of your neck. You think to yourself: Is this person getting too close to me?
这种情况不时发生 —— 你站在公交车上正听着音乐，突然感觉到他人的鼻息喷到了你的脖子后侧。你会想：这人是不是离我太近了？
The answer is yes. Everyone has a sense of personal space. But how big is this space?
According to a new study, the size of the space is different for different people, but generally it is between 20 to 40 centimeters in front of the face, reported Los Angeles Times.
In the study, researchers from University College of London asked volunteers to hold their hands at different distances from their face. They then gave them an electric shock on their hand while measuring how often the volunteers blinked. The more they blinked, the more of a threat they felt the shock was to their face.
The results among volunteers were a little different, but the average personal space was 20 to 40 centimeters. Researchers also found that the more anxious a person was, the larger their personal space was because they were more sensitive.
Besides psychological factors, culture is also thought to be able to change your personal space. For example, a person who grew up in a country that hugs a lot has less of a problem with strangers getting too close than a person who grew up in one with more distance between people.
People’s senses of personal space also depend on the environments they are in. “If you are chatting to someone in your living room, you won’t have a large safety margin at all,” explained researcher Gian Domenico Iannetti. “But if you are walking through a dangerous area, then that will be much bigger.”
Sadly, sometimes people just don’t understand the idea of personal space and keep getting into yours. Whenever that happens, rather than trying to step backwards, researchers suggest that you “create a new space” by turning to wave at someone passing by or to get something out of your bag.