Commuters go to great lengths to avoid others

Published in the journal Symbolic Interaction, a study has revealed that individuals are not keen on sitting next to a stranger on the bus unless the vehicle is full.

Sociologist Esther Kim from Yale University explained the unspoken rule of travelling by bus is that people should not sit next to others if there are other seats available.

Ms Kim stated: "We engage in all sorts of behaviour to avoid others, pretending to be busy, checking phones, rummaging through bags, looking past people or falling asleep."

She added some will pull a face that suggests they do not wish to be bothered, while others will even don a 'hate stare'.

The investigation revealed some of the ways travellers dissuade others from sitting next to them is by avoiding eye contact, placing items on the adjoining seat and stretching and leaning.

However, it is normal practice for passengers to sit next to each other when it becomes clear the bus is full.

Professor Robert Edelmann, a Chartered Psychologist, comments from a psychological viewpoint:

"We like to protect our personal space - the imaginary bubble around us which we do not like others to invade. Expect to unsettle people if you stand too close to them in an almost empty lift.  Expect the person to fidget nervously if you stand too close to them whilst waiting in line. As for sitting next to or too near to someone on an almost empty train or bus that is a challenge almost too much for most to bear."

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