Measuring the Auditory Bubble: How Mobile Music Listening Affects Personal Space
In einer eigenen kleinen Welt: Wie mobiles Musikhören die persönliche Distanzzone beeinflusst

Main Article Content

Eva Schurig


Research on mobile music listening (through headphones while on the move) revealed that people use music to create an imaginary space around themselves that cannot be breached by others. This concept recalls the zone around each person called personal space. Thus, the questions posed in this exploratory study were as follows: How does music listening through headphones influence personal space? Is there a difference between air-conduction and bone-conduction headphones? Thirty people (M_age = 34.6, SD_age = 15.4; 11 male, 19 female) took part in the experiment. They were each approached by either a female or male assistant while listening to self-chosen music and were instructed to ask them to stop at two points: firstly, when an ideal conversation distance had been reached, and secondly, when the assistant should not come any closer. The distances between assistant and participant were measured first without music and then randomly while listening through air-conduction or bone-conduction headphones. Results indicate that listening to music influences personal space: when music was listened to through headphones, the ideal conversation distance was smaller, whereas the second distance measurement was only affected by air-conduction headphones. Apart from music, no other factor was found to influence the size of personal space. The findings of the present study reveal that listening to music and even the kind of headphones used have a measurable influence on personal space. The smaller personal distance required when listening to music can be explained by the fact that the listener is distracted from unpleasant situations and can instead focus on something positive.

mobile music listening; headphones; personal space; auditory bubble; bone-conduction headphones; crowdedness

Article Details

Research Reports