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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1975 Oct;32(4):645-54.

An experimental study of crowding: effects of room size, intrusion, and goal blocking on nonverbal behavior, self-disclosure, and self-reported stress.


This study hypothesized that stress in high room density, or crowding, depends on interpersonal disturbances such as intrusion and goal blocking. High room density was expected to intensify individual reactions to these disturbances. In a 2 X 2 X 2 design, groups of six male college students containing three subjects and three confederates were placed in a large or small room. Subjects and confederates interacted in pairs; confederates introduced intrusion by leaning forward, touching subjects, and attempting 80% eye contact as confederates talked. Goal blocking involved inattention and interruptions as subjects talked. Interactions were videotaped through two-way mirrors to record nonverbal behaviors associated with affiliation and stress. Subjects also completed self-report measures of stress and self-disclosure. Intrusion led to initial discomfort that decreased with time, and lower levels of facial regard. Goal blocking produced self-reported irritation that increased with time, and lower levels of facial regard, gesturing, and positive head nodding. Contrary to predictions, stress responses to intrusion and goal blocking were not intensified by high room density. Lower levels of affiliative behavior were viewed as coping responses to interpersonal disturbances--subjects apparently coped successfully with intrusion, but not with goal blocking. Results are interpreted in terms of a sequential, interpersonal model of crowding.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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