The effect of facial disfigurement on the proxemic behavior of the general public

Rumsey, N., Bull, R. and Gahagan, D. (1982) The effect of facial disfigurement on the proxemic behavior of the general public. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 12 (2). pp. 137-150. ISSN 0021-9029 Available from:

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The personal space afforded to a disfigured or nondisfigured confederate by 450 pedestrians in a busy street was measured. In Condition 1, the confederate had a birthmark under the right eye (permanent disfigurement). In Condition 2, this was replaced by trauma scarring and bruising (temporary disfigurement). In the third condition, the confederate was “normal” (i.e., no disfigurement). It was found that subjects stood further away from the confederate in the disfigured conditions than in the no disfigurement condition. More specifically, pedestrians arriving first in each trial stood an average distance of 100 cms from the confederate in the birthmark condition, 78 cms in the trauma condition, and 56 cms when the confederate was not disfigured. In addition, subjects chose significantly more often to stand to the left (nondisfigured) side of the confederate in the birthmark and trauma conditions than they did in the normal condition. Those subjects who chose to stand on the right (disfigured) side of the confederate, stood further away from those subjects standing on the nondisfigured side. The implications of the results are discussed in terms of the possible psychological problems associated with facial disfigurement.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:facial disfigurement
Faculty/Department:Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences > Department of Health and Social Sciences
ID Code:11957
Deposited By: Professor N. Rumsey
Deposited On:16 Dec 2010 09:22
Last Modified:15 Nov 2016 18:31

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