Archive for March, 2011

March 29, 2011

Effects of Apartment Cleanliness on Impression Formation

How many times have you heard that nagging rhetorical question “What will others think if you don’t clean your room/apartment?” It seems that this question just calls for a rebellious teen-style answer – “Who cares?”. Or, “I’ll clean it when I want and for my own sake and not for others”. But really, what do people think when we let them in our messy apartments? Maybe they don’t care that much, like we all unsuccessfully tried to convince our mothers at some point. Or do they?

To do list: #1 Organize my books; photo by chotda

As discussed before, existing research suggests that elements of the built environment may reveal an occupant’s personality and that by using these elements as cues others may be able to accurately judge the occupant’s personality (see Home design and personality related). Following study by Harris and Sachau (2005) focused on the influence of apartment cleanliness on outsiders’ impressions of residents.

read more »

March 24, 2011

Ceiling Height Influences the Notion of Freedom and Thinking Processes

When speaking of living space, working space, or any (closed) public space, we usually think of the space that we actually use, so it seems ironic that the space that we don’t actively use can be very important for us – the empty space above our heads. The height of a ceiling influences our feelings, thoughts and behaviour. This is not a revolutionary idea. I belive that we’re all intuitively aware that room’s height affects us, and can trace that awareness throughout the history of architecture. Some types of buildings like churches and temples always tended to have high ceilings, and were supposed to prompt abstract, spiritual thoughts. Maybe by making us feel small, they prime us to think about greater things – to think “outside the box”.

Musée d’Orsay, Paris; photo by Mark Bridge

What I like about investigating something so exact like room height is how easy it is to conduct an experiment. You just place people in two rooms that are identical in all features except the one you’re interested in, and record people’s feelings, thoughts and behavior. That’s exactly what Meyers-Levy and Zhu (2007) did in their three experiments when investigated the effects of high (10 ft; 3 m) and low (8 ft; 2,4 m) ceiling height on individuals’ notions of freedom versus confinement and how such effects further influenced information processing.

read more »

March 16, 2011

Creating a Sense of Community by New Urbanist Design

What is the key factor that makes some neighbourhoods friendly and social, and others alienated and detached? Is it the wealth of its inhabitants, or the size of the community? Is it impossible to create a strong sense of  community in a big city or in wealthier neighbourhoods? I don’t think so, because there are some design features that can foster community attachment, facilitate social interaction, and create a sense of community identity.

Very similar houses in traditional suburbia (click to enlarge); photo by San Diego Shooter

When speaking of residential areas, people usually think of conventional suburban developments with very similar single family houses on large lots, isolated from commercial parts of town. From a bird’s perspective this tame environment looks like it would make a foundation for a very close-knit community. However, as it’s became evident throughout 20th century, high car dependence, one of the most prominent characteristics of suburbia, causes a number of problems – economical, environmental, health, and – social. People never get the chance to see their neighbours and develop a sense of community.

read more »

March 9, 2011

Counselor’s Office Design – the Effects on Client’s Self-Disclosure and Impressions of a Counselor

What does a good counselor’s office look like? I guess that most people expect to see a couch to sit (or lay) on, some cushions to hug and inevitable mega pack of paper tissues in the hand’s reach.  A stage set for some major self-disclosure. Warm colors, rugs on the floor and artwork on the walls, a bunch of books on shelves to indicate that the counselor is well read, and dim lighting to create a sense of intimacy would all fit that picture too. In short, what we are looking for is  more home-like then office-like appearance.

Are we looking for a living room in a counselor’s office?; photo by High Peaks Resort

Assuming that the room environment can facilitate counseling, Miwa and Kazunori (2006) examined the effects of lighting and decorations on participants’ self-disclosure and impressions of a counselor. Their results showed that like in most situations when we’re expected to strip naked (literally or not), dim lightning seems to work well for most people.

read more »

March 2, 2011

Office Personalization and Employee Well-Being, Satisfaction and Motivation

There’s something about brand new offices that makes me feel unease. Perfectly polished, color-coordinated, and smelling of “the new” they’re somewhat surreal, like those weird dreams when you’re at familiar place but something is just off.  It’s clear that the space is waiting for people to bring it to life – to walk its floors, to yell across its hallways, to gather in the elevators, sit in chairs, fill trash cans, leave their coats, bags, coffe cups, papers, stains, fingerprints.. all around. In short, it takes some clutter and chaos in the office to know that “real, normal” people work there.

Brand new office at Weber Thompson, WA, U.S. (click to enlarge); photo by

Sometimes, though, company policies don’t allow much evidence of “real normal” people working in their offices. They prohibit any signs of their employees’ private lives – like family photographs, plants, artwork or memorabilia, keeping the appearance of that brand new, impersonal, sterile workplace. Does professional mean impersonal? Do companies and employees benefit from focusing on the role of a worker and suppressing other aspects of employee’s identity? Or does office personalization allow workers to see  their workplace as their space and thus make them feel more involved? Here are some interesting findings.

read more »