Exploiting Social Norms

Your understanding of social norms and social bias is pivotal if you hope to enjoy unique opportunities and extended social influence.  You’ve heard of the “personal bubble” we each have.  The study of your personal space, your interactions in it and your interaction with others is known as Proxemics.  According to studies done by Edward Hall—an early father of Proxemics—intimate space is roughly 1.5 feet, personal space is 4 feet.  If someone you don’t know...

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...is in your intimate space, your fight or flight mechanism kicks in.  Sometimes you react this way when others are in your 4-foot personal space.  You get antsy, you want the person to move or you want to move.  You step away.  Then…they step closer and what do you do?  You begin to process: the first time could have been circumstantial, but now you begin to question “intent.”  You move again, they move into your personal space a second time and now you feel you’ve confirmed their intent, and it is at this point you begin making plans for escape and/or self-protection.  Does this sound familiar?

You can use this natural instinct to your benefit. In my next few posts, I’ll follow up with some social experiments I’ve done to confirm this phenomenon and explain how to gently use it to your benefit.


Click this link to go to the second article in this series.

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