Effects of Bodily Contact on Reactions to Crowding

Gregory J. Nicosia, Douglas Hyman, Robert A. Karlin, Yakov M. Estein, John R. Aiello

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16 Scopus citations


The present study examined the effects of bodily contact in a crowded environment. Initially, the skin conductance levels (SCL) of 160 males and females were obtained during rest and while bursting a balloon. In a subsequent session, subjects in same‐sex groups of four were seated for 30 minutes in either (a) a large room, (b) a small room subjected to unavoidable bodily contact, or (c) a small room which was partitioned to either reduce or prevent bodily contact while allowing visual access. Measures of mood, tolerance for frustration, cognitive task performance, and self reports of annoyance and somatic distress were then taken. Results showed that crowding is stressful and that bodily contact makes a significant contribution to the amount of stress experienced for both men and women. In general, crowded subjects forced to touch showed the greatest increases in SCL, felt most annoyed, were most bothered by spatial intrusion during crowding, and had the lowest tolerance for frustration following crowding. Sex differences in mood following crowding and in reaction to the noncrowded environment were observed and appeared to be mediated by differential social concerns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)508-523
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Applied Social Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1979

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology


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