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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Personal space, behavior problems, and self-concept among grade six boys Major, Clara Teresa


This study investigated personal space and its relationship to behavior problems and self-concept among grade six boys attending regular elementary schools. The sample consisted of 53 boys selected from three schools located in East Vancouver. The mean age of the sample was 12.11 years. A survey of the related literature indicated that severely disturbed individuals require significantly larger personal space area than "normals". Concerning self-concept and personal space, a relationship between the two has been reported for adult subjects but not for children. Lastly, the literature suggests that comparative evaluation of existing personal space measures is lacking. Two measures of personal space, the Comfortable Interpersonal Distance Scale and an altered version of the Pedersen Personal Space Measure — Children's Form, were employed in this study. The Walker Problem Behavior Identification Checklist was used to rate behavior problems. This instrument was completed by the subjects' teachers. The Piers-Harris Children's Self-Concept Scale and the Inferred Self-Concept Scale (rated by the teachers) were the last two measures of self-concept used in the study. The results of the correlational analyses indicated that behavior problems and personal space are unrelated. However, strong significant positive correlations were obtained between the Disturbed Peer Relation Scale of the Walker Problem Behavior Identification Checklist and the peer variables of the personal space measures. The strongly significant correlations were found especially for those personal space variables involving female peers. It was concluded from these findings that disturbed peer relations are indicative of fairly large personal space distances maintained between opposite-sexed peers which may reflect the beginning of a future trend towards isolation from others. The findings regarding self-concept and personal space support previously reported results which indicate that there is no relationship between the two in children. Since a relationship between self-concept and personal space has been reported for adult subjects, it is possible that these results reflect instability due to lack of formation of definite personal space boundaries in children. The variables of the two personal space measures were cross-correlated to determine the level of relationship between the two. The results obtained indicate that the two measures are significantly related especially for the variables representing strangers. Several adjunct or post hoc analyses were performed to investigate questions which arose from the primary analyses. The results of one analysis indicated that a significant school difference was operating in the ratings of the Walker Problem Behavior Identification Checklist. A final analysis revealed that the five different cultural groups of subjects were unevenly distributed among the three schools. It is possible that this may have contaminated the results of the study since culture is known to affect personal space.

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