AskDefine | Define propinquity

Dictionary Definition

propinquity n : the property of being close together [syn: proximity]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Etymology

From Old French propinquité or Latin propinquitas, from propinquus ‘neighbouring’ (from prope ‘near’).

Pronunciation

  • /prəˈpɪŋkwɪti/

Noun

  1. nearness or proximity
    • 1964: Community without propinquity — Melvin M Webber The Urban Place and the Non-Place Urban Realm in Explorations into Urban Structure ed Webber et al (Pennsylvania, 1964)
    • 1973: Surely, too, it would be a waste of an agent, for after several hours of propinquity I could scarcely fail to recognise him in the future. — Kyril Bonfigliori, Don't Point That Thing at Me (Penguin 2001, p. 70)
    • 1976: Nothing "propinques" like propinquity. - Walter Mondale, ("... But Carter clearly saw the value of physical proximity to the Oval Office and to the senior White House staff, and it tumed out to have been a fortuitous insight on his part. To be just a few steps down the hall from the president and to be in the traffic pattem of the West Wing was to have profound consequences for Mondale's being "in the loop" of the Carter White House. Nothing propinques like propinquity, Mondale would say after a few weeks in his new office...." - from "PRESENT AT THE CREATION OF THE MODERN VICE PRESIDENCY - A Personal Reflection" By Richard Moe )
    • 1979: [A] person's mere propinquity to others independently suspected of criminal activity does not, without more, give rise to probable cause to search that person. Ybarra v. Illinois, 444 U.S. 85, 86 (1979).
    • 1985: There was also the question of Julius’s glandular responses to the almost daily propinquity of his Empress, so naked under her lawn. — Anthony Burgess, Kingdom of the Wicked
  2. affiliation or similarity
    • 1976: Nothing "propinques" like propinquity. - Walter Mondale, ("...To be just a few steps down the hall from the president and to be in the traffic pattem of the West Wing was to have profound consequences for Mondale's being "in the loop" of the Carter White House. Nothing propinques like propinquity, Mondale would say after a few weeks in his new office...." - from "PRESENT AT THE CREATION OF THE MODERN VICE PRESIDENCY - A Personal Reflection" By Richard Moe )
    • 1997: Decent people out there. Russ wants to believe they are still assembled in some recognizable manner, the kindred unit at the radio, old lines and ties and propinquities. — Don DeLillo, Underworld
    • 1979: [A] person's mere propinquity to others independently suspected of criminal activity does not, without more, give rise to probable cause to search that person. Ybarra v. Illinois, 444 U.S. 85, 86 (1979).

Extensive Definition

The sense of the word "propinquity" as given here is a specialised one. For a more general definition of the word, see propinquity in the Wiktionary.
In social psychology, propinquity (from Latin propinquitas, nearness) is one of the main factors leading to interpersonal attraction. It refers to the physical or psychological proximity between people. Two people living on the same floor of a building, for example, have a higher propinquity than those living on different floors. Propinquity can mean physical proximity, a kinship between people, or a similarity in nature between things. Propinquity is also one of the factors, set out by Jeremy Bentham, used to measure the amount of (utilitarian) pleasure in a method known as felicific calculus.

Propinquity effect

The propinquity effect is the tendency for people to form friendships or romantic relationships with those whom they encounter often. In other words, relationships tend to be formed between those who have a high propinquity. It was first theorized by psychologists Leon Festinger, Stanley Schachter, Kurt Lewin and Kurt Back in what came to be called the Westgate studies conducted at MIT (1950). The typical Euler diagram used to represent the propinquity effect is shown below where U = universe, A = set A, B = set B, and S = similarity:
The sets are basically any relevant subject matter about a person, persons, or non-persons, depending on the context. Propinquity can be more than just physical distance. Residents of an apartment building living near a stairway, for example, tend to have more friends from other floors than others. The propinquity effect is usually explained by the mere exposure effect, which holds that the more exposure a stimulus gets, the more likeable it becomes.

References

  • Festinger, L., Schachter, S., Back, K., (1950) "The Spatial Ecology of Group Formation", in L. Festinger, S. Schachter, & K. Back (eds.), Social Pressure in Informal Groups, 1950. Chapter 4.

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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