Distance between people
Closeness or proximity (keeping a small distance) and touching (zero distance) are forms of physical intimacy. What distance is appropriate for a particular social situation depends on culture, in Western culture it tends to be larger. It is also a matter of personal preference. People may feel uncomfortable if the distance is too large (cold) or too small (intrusive).
Similar observations apply to figurative senses of distance, such as emotional distance.
The term proxemics was introduced by researcher E.T. Hall in 1963 when he investigated people's use of personal space. He used four categories for informal space: the intimate distance for embracing or whispering (6-18 inches), the personal distance for conversations among good friends (1.5-4 feet), social distance for conversations among acquaintances (4-12 feet), and public distance used for public speaking (12 feet or more).
A related term is propinquity. Propinquity is one of the factors, set out by Jeremy Bentham, used to measure the amount of pleasure in a method known as felicific calculus.
See also T-V distinction, Skinship.
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