Zone Distances

The radius of the air bubble around suburban middle class white people living in Australia, New Zealand, England, North America and Canada is generally the same. It can be broken down into four distinct zone distances.

1. Intimate Zone (between 15 and 45 centimetres or 6 to 18 inches)

Of all the zone distances, this is by far the most important as it is this zone that a person guards as if it were his own property. Only those who are emotionally close to that person are permitted to enter it. This includes lovers, parents, spouse, children, close friends and relatives. There is a sub-zone that extends up to 15 centimetres (6 inches) from the body that can be entered only during physical contact. This is the close intimate zone.

2. Personal Zone (between 46 centimetres and 1.22 metres or 18 to 48 inches)

This is the distance that we stand from others at cocktail parties, office parties, social functions and friendly gatherings.

3. Social Zone (between 1.22 and 3.6 metres or 4 to 12 feet)

We stand at this distance from strangers, the plumber or carpenter doing repairs around our home, the postman, the local shopkeeper, the new employee at work and people whom we do not know very well.

4. Public Zone (over 3.6 metres or 12 feet)

Whenever we address a large group of people, this is the comfortable distance at which we choose to stand.

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