When Compensation Fails: Mediating Effects of Sex and Locus of Control at Extended Interaction Distances

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Male and female physiological, social, and emotional responses were examined at an interpersonal distance beyond that which is typically chosen for conversation in order to test an extension of an equilibrium theory of socialintimacy. This model posits that beyond a critical discomfort level, compensatory processes are relatively ineffective in restoring a desired level ofinvolvement. The results of the present study strongly support the predictionthat people experience much discomfort and react negatively when interactingat an interpersonal distance outside of the compensatory range-that is, the area within which adjustments in behavior on dimensions other than distancecan restore a preferred level of involvement for an interaction. Further, two individual difference variables, sex and locus of control, were found to mediate stress reactions at the inappropriate distance, with women and individuals characterized by an internal locus-of-control being more negatively affected by these environmental conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-82
Number of pages18
JournalBasic and Applied Social Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 1980


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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