Differential Responses to Being Ignored: The Effects of Architectural Design and Social Density on Interpersonal Behavior1


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    This research was conducted in partial fulfillment of a Master of Arts Degree while the author was at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. The author wishes to express his gratitude to Stuart Valins and Jerome E. Singer, who served on the advisory committee, and to Andrew Baum, John Aiello, Robert Woolfolk, Robert Karlin, and Yakov Epstein for their critical readings of earlier drafts. A special note of thanks is extended to those people who served as experimenters and confederates for these studies: Debbie Rubin, Marianne Zimmerman, Rosaria Mamone, Kathy Aho, Joyce Baer, Jim Zito, and Larry Dorman.


This study examines the experience of being ignored when social interaction is chronically at high or low levels. Subjects in these studies resided in either traditional corridor dormitories or in suite-type apartments. Previous research has shown that the corridor arrangement leads to an excess of unwanted contacts with other residents. Hence, corridor residents should desire less interaction with strangers than suite residents. It was hypothesized that corridor residents would be less adversely affected if they were ignored during a group discussion. The results of two experiments reported here support this hypothesis. They also demonstrate the generally negative effects of being ignored. Results are discussed in terms of Altman's (1975) model of contact regulation.