Body image boundary and interpersonal distance in two-person encounters
Rauter, Udo Klaus
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This study was conducted in order to investigate the relationship between body image definiteness, as indexed by the Barrier score, and interpersonal distance during a brief two-person interaction. In addition, the relationships of various expressive variables (spatial movement, gaze, eye contact, and speech) with distance preferences were examined. Ninety male college students were selected from a total of 113 and were divided into two equivalent groups of 45 high Barrier Ss and 45 low Barrier Ss following the administration of a group Rorschach. This sample was then rearranged by randomly assigning Ss from the original two Barrier distributions to two- person groups (dyads), resulting in 15 High Barrier dyads, 15 Low Barrier dyads, and 15 Mixed Barrier dyads. Each dyad underwent a pre-arranged social task which required four minutes of spontaneous verbal interaction. Video records were obtained unobtrusively during the interaction and were later analyzed for differences in distance preferences, spatial movement, gaze, eye contact, and speech. A significant time effect was found for interaction distances during the first three minutes and a significant Barrier group effect during the fourth minute. High Barrier Ss generally preferred larger interpersonal distances than low Barrier Ss, contrary to the original hypotheses. No consistent and systematic relationship was found between distance and expressive variables. However, significant correlations were found between measures of visual behavior and speech. The implications of these results were discussed in terms of affiliation theory.