Taking your first steps into higher education
Taking your first steps into higher education

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Taking your first steps into higher education

3.1 Appropriate space

Knowledge of what is seen as the appropriate space between people is important in any culture. It helps avoid embarrassing mistakes such as standing too close to someone.

Our knowledge about appropriate interpersonal (between people) space is implicit or tacit – it is understood without being stated.

However, there are situations in which these rules are broken.

Apart from being crowded together, in life there are also times, for example in health and social care and when working with children, when it is important to be very aware of the interpersonal space they are supposed to maintain with others. Health care practitioners, for example, need consent before crossing the boundary into someone’s intimate space. In these circumstances knowledge has to be stated or explicit (rather than tacit).

Our behaviour gives out a constant stream of clues which can be ‘read’ by others. For example, if someone leans away from you, you may well move a step back yourself because you recognise their discomfort with being close. But it is also possible you may label them as being ‘oversensitive’ or ‘stuck up’. This is a judgement made on very little evidence and can lead to what is called stereotyping.

Skip Your course resources

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371