What does one call the desire not to be too close to other people, and further, the aversion against that - on the street, on the beach, in public transportation, etc?

(What is considered "too close" may well depend on culture and the individual.)

Edit: This is an example of a "gapped sentence":

CO2 emissions are too high because too many people in northern countries go to work with their own car. This is partially due to a stronger [desire not to be (too) close to other people] than in southern countries.

I admit that one could rephrase this by "due to a desire for more interpersonal space" or "due to a stronger desire for interpersonal space" - but that's what my question is about: Is there a single word for "desire for interpersonal space". A pathological form of this desire might be some kind of "social claustrophobia"

  • 1
    I've found 'ungregariousness' in one source, but won't put it in an answer as the source isn't one I'm familiar with. Jan 2, 2020 at 12:25
  • @EdwinAshworth: Thanks for gregariousness/sociality! It almost hits the nail on the head, and it's only the spatial aspect that's somehow missing. But sociality has to do with some (abstract) vicinity - so much is for sure. Jan 2, 2020 at 12:54
  • 'body space' is the usual English term for the space people tend to keep from each other. 'Wider body space' would be easily understood.
    – Mitch
    Jan 2, 2020 at 16:32
  • @Mitch: Thanks for improving my question. Jan 2, 2020 at 16:33

1 Answer 1


In psychology, it has been called body buffer zone and interpersonal space

Some people have a larger buffer zone (or prefer more/larger interpersonal space).

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    That's the word for what is preferred. But what about the preference itself? Jan 2, 2020 at 9:42
  • @Hans-PeterStricker Would you put it in a gapped sentence, please?
    – Apollonian
    Jan 2, 2020 at 11:59
  • @SilverFace: Have done so. Jan 2, 2020 at 12:10
  • I found two phobias that might be of use here: Demophobia and Enochlophobia
    – Apollonian
    Jan 2, 2020 at 12:43
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    @Hans-PeterStricker I've never heard of 'ochlophobia'. 'Agoraphobia' is the much much more common technical term (though it covers a broader range of behaviors). 'Claustrophobia' and 'agoraphobia' while nominally distinct are usually considered by psychiatrists to be closely related.
    – Mitch
    Jan 2, 2020 at 16:33

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