Archive for ‘workspace’

June 11, 2012

An Interview with Environmental Psychologist: Joren van Dijk on Creative Spaces

For many people I meet, everything seems to be going well in life, but they’re not feeling quite happy. With all the information, options and resources available nowadays (in the part of the world that lives in abundance), people seem to be lacking the spark, inspiration and intrinsic motivation more than ever. That’s why I belive we can benefit from exploring ways to enhance the level of creativity in our lives, presuming that being creative is a happier mode of human existence than repeating patters and being uninspired.

Everyday creativity of ordinary people has been a very interesting research subject for scientists in recent years (as opposed to creativity defined as a rare trait of exquisite individuals resulting in historically new scientific discoveries and great works of art – which was “the original” definition of creativity). In other words, creativity for the rest of us has been “discovered”. That’s why I’m happy to learn something about designing spaces that nudge ordinary people to find creative solutions to everyday problems from Joren van Dijk, a Dutch environmental psychologist and the founder of (Dutch for environmental psychologist). Joren  consults organizations on how to design interior and exterior in order to facilitate people in achieving their goals.


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November 30, 2011

Should Therapists Display Their Diplomas and Certificates?

Fellow psychologists, counselors and psychotherapists, do you proudly display your diplomas and certificates for your clients to see them? Or do you feel uncomfortable with the idea, believing you should confirm your expertness through your work and that your clients could perceive your self-promotion as undesirable?

What should be displayed on the wall in a therapist’s office?; photo by favaro JR.

As you are aware, there is evidence that many factors, beside specific therapeutic techniques, play important role in psychotherapeutic process. Such factors may be the therapist’s gender and age, impression formation based on the therapist’s appearance or manners, or the environment in which the therapy or counseling occurs.

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April 13, 2011

Personality Cues in Offices

Sometimes it’s really hard to appreciate psychology research. All findings seem so familiar and intuitive, and it feels like you would’ve guessed it without some social scientists spending their time and (our) money on such obvious experiments. In a way, everyone is their own psychology expert. And it should be that way. But could you really guess reasearch findings in advance? I don’t think so – it’s just one of those cognitive biases that makes us feel we know more than we really do. You can try if you don’t belive me: which personality traits do you think can be correctly inferred by observing somebody’s office? Can you appraise one’s emotional stability by looking their office? Of extraversion? Or agreeableness?

Does here work an agreeable person?; photo by blupics

Interior design acts as a form of nonverbal communication, sending messages to potential visitors and thus affecting their impressions of the occupant. That’ why home design is related to some personality traits, and it’s proven that, by examining a stranger’s home, visitors can accurately infere ocupants’ consciousness and openness to experience. Can the same traits be guessed in an office setting? Presuming that we don’t show all aspects of our personality at work and at home, it’s worth to investigate this question more closely.

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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.

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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.

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