The coping processes associated with crowding stress were conceptualized as dynamic sequences of personal or situational adjustments and readjustments directed toward maintaining desired frequencies of social contact. By studying ongoing coping processes as subjects prepared for anticipated crowding, evidence of social withdrawal as a response to crowding was obtained. In addition, findings suggested that these processes were sensitive to change in the situation, seeking or avoiding interaction as anticipated group size changed. Subjects who were subsequently told that they would be interacting in small groups rather than in larger groups reported less crowding and discomfort than subjects whose anticipation of large group interaction was maintained. Furthermore, subjects whose expectations of large group interaction were disconfirmed increased facial regard for others following disconfirmation, indicating a greater willingness to interact. These findings were discussed as evidence of optimization processes governing desired levels of social contact, intimacy, and personal space.
Journal of Applied Social Psychology – Wiley
Published: Feb 1, 1979
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