Birds of a Feather Flock Together. . .
But Not Too Close Together!

Have you noticed that animals—from cows in a pasture to birds on a wire—maintain space around each other? People do it too. We call it personal space, and scientists call it individual distance. Notice the spacing between the robins in these pictures. What do you think the individual distance between robins is?

Photo: Gerry Stewart
Photo: B.Stanton
Photo: M.Landry

Try This!
Think how you feel when someone "gets in your face." It's uncomfortable when someone is talking with you, nose-to-nose! How much personal space do YOU need? Figure it out:

1. Get with a partner and stand six feet apart.

2. Take tiny steps towards each other until you no longer feel comfortable getting closer.

3. Now measure the distance apart. This measurement is your personal space.

4. After everyone figures their personal space, calculate the average "personal space" for kids in your class.

Journaling Question

  • Do you predict the results of this experiment will be the same in six months? Explain your thinking. Mark your calendar to repeat it and see!
  • How might you explain individual differences in personal space needed?