Personal space, anger-arousal, and psychological defense1


  • 1

    Thanks are due Judith K Lezotte, Stephen K Bedwell, and Cynthia E LaPrad for their assistance during data collection and analysis, and to Stuart A Karabenick and George C Rosenwald for their comments on a previous draft of the manuscript


Personal space was hypothesized to function as a defense mechanism The strength of intrapsychic defense against anger expression was first assessed in 160 college students by the TAT and Word Association Test, and personal space usage was then measured under anger-arousing versus control conditions and under two types of instructions Results were that instructions accounted for a large proportion of the personal space variance, that under one anger-arousing condition some subjects apparently counterattacked by invasion of the experimenter's territory, and that, in that condition, subjects with stronger defenses against anger expression employed larger spatial distances These results suggest that larger distances are used for defensive purposes only under conditions in which closer distances imply impulse expression