The Definitive Book of Body Language proved that I do not enjoy studying psychology and sociology for nothing. Chapter 9 was full of fantastic allegories and read in the same breath, which is quite a rare thing for psychological books, where it is needed to analyze everything. It taught me a lot and opened my eyes to things I would never have noticed in everyday life.
The chapter begins at once with beautiful comparisons to animals and more. First, the author talks about personal space by giving the example of a cinema, clearly showing what he means by talking about the intention of people to look like everyone else around in the cinema hall (Pease, 2017). Then there are comparisons to the private space of the lions, which perfectly describes the central message of the chapter. The author talks about “Bubbles of personal space,” demonstrating this with a picture on the side in the following lines.
In the next section, the author discusses the zones of personal space in more detail and divides them into four main categories such as intimate, personal, social, and public. All of this gives an insight into how a person can let themselves be approached depending on their familiarity with the person they are talking to. The author also cites the amusing allegory of the lift and how uncomfortable other people can be in it. Not surprisingly, since they are in a personal zone, being strangers.
When the chapter ends, the author gives examples of how the scope of personal space differs from person to person around the world. For instance, we learn that the Japanese let strangers in closer than Americans or that Italians are more likely to keep the short distance between each other, unlike Australians. It is astonishingly amusing to read such fragments and realize that this is the case.
Towards the end, I wanted to read more such interesting examples from other people’s lives and get to know the subject of personal space closer. I look forward to seeing the same effect in the following sections of the book. I hope that in the future, Pease will describe more interesting psychological and social effects people cannot notice on purpose.
Pease, A. (2017). The definitive book of body language: How to read others’ attitudes by their gestures. Orion.