Physical distance and persuasion

Stuart Albert, James M. Dabbs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


A friendly or hostile speaker delivered 2 persuasive messages to an S seated at 1-2, 4-5, and 14-15 ft. away from him. 90 male undergraduates served as Ss. Attitude change decreased linearly with distance, becoming negative for the hostile speaker at the close distance. Selective attention to the message was greatest at the middle distance, while at either the close or far distances, attention was apparently shifted to the physical appearance of the speaker. For 1 of the messages the inferred expertise of the communicator was judged greatest at the middle distance. Results are discussed in terms of E. T. Hall's concept of optimal spatial zones and in terms of acceptance and resistance forces, particularly reactance, underlying persuasion. (15 ref.) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-270
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1970
Externally publishedYes


  • attitude change, college students
  • physical distance &


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