To determine peoples' personal space preferences, the study's international team of researchers presented each participant with an image featuring two people standing about seven feet apart. Researchers asked them to imagine themselves as one of the individuals and mark on the sheet how close the other person should approach for a conversation, based on whether they were a stranger, acquaintance, or intimate relation/friend.
Of all the countries represented, people in Argentina were found to expect the least amount of space when talking with a stranger (roughly 2.5ft), followed by Peru and Bulgaria. On the flip side, Romanians preferred to have the most amount of physical space (roughly 4.5ft), followed by Hungarians and Saudi Arabians. Respondents in the US fell somewhere in the middle, preferring just over three feet of space from strangers.
When it came to how far people preferred to be from an acquaintance, the country rank order was mostly similar to what it was for strangers' interactions. However, the findings for the amount of space preferred for close friends didn't really track with the others. Interestingly, Romanians' preference seemed to flip, as they prefer to have among the least amount of distance between a loved one or close friend, matching the preference of Argentinians of roughly 1.5ft. Hungary and Saudi Arabia's preference for greater space between each other followed suit, though. Alternately, Norwegians like to be the closest of anyone to those they're close with, with just over one foot of space.