Sometimes, when someone you are not familiar with comes a bit too close, you feel uncomfortable. It might be hard for you to tell them off because you don’t want to be rude or seem selfish. After all, some people think that personal space is just an excuse to be anti-social. What they do not realize is that personal space is very real and it is actually one of our basic needs.
We explore our human need for personal space and why it is important to be respected.
“Personal space” is that invisible layer around your body.
Personal space is very real as it is written into our very DNA, according to neuroscientist Michael Graziano who authored the book The Spaces Between Us. Personal space, or scientifically known as peripersonal space, is when the brain creates a kind of extra layer or zone around the body. This zone is very flexible and changes as we socialize.
When testing personal space, Graziano and his colleagues recorded reactions in the brains of monkeys, not only when ping pong balls touched their body, but also when the balls came near their body. Although the same experiment was not done on human beings, they found that there is a similarity between the monkey’s brain and the human’s brain when it comes to personal space.