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When people sit to do work but do not want to talk to each other, they will sit in the "independent and opposite" seating arrangement.  We see this with strangers in a limited seating cafeteria or in a library when strangers share tables.

When people sit to do work but do not want to talk to each other, they will sit in the “independent and opposite” seating arrangement. We see this with strangers in a limited seating cafeteria or in a library when strangers share tables.

When the object is to show independence, than an opposite, yet diagonal seating position is recommended. We see this most often in cafeteria style arrangements when sitting by oneself isn’t possible and tables are filled with strangers but we still want the most amount of privacy possible. Students will choose this arrangement when studying separately in a library as it permits independent thought and separation avoids any direct eye contact should either party need a break from their work. When subjects were asked to sit and do work quietly in one study this was the most common seating arrangement. Usually the space between the parties will be evenly split and be occupied by handbags, books, papers and other belongings to reserve them from being taken up. Obviously this position should be avoided when cooperation and affiliation formation is has the reverse effect. The independent and opposite position when it is not expected creates hostility and shows indifference.