Posts tagged ‘interior design’

October 24, 2011

Housing Quality and Children’s Socioemotional Well-being

“By falling serendipitously into teaching in a Waldorf school for five years, I deeply learned the impact that an environment has on a person (particularly children). I saw, first hand, that the children who did best in the classroom came from the best homes, but this had nothing to do with any rich/poor divide, and all of the ingredients of the good homes that I witnessed were accessible to all.”

photo by yvestown

This teacher’s observation inspired me to look up for research on effects that housing quality has on children. And while “doing best in the classroom” could be understood as academic achievement, I’d like to look at in a broader sense of socioemotional wellbeing – it could mean the children who function the best in academic, social, and emotional aspects of their lives – who are motivated, interested, mature, creative, playful enough, cooperative, caring, etc.

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May 15, 2011

Red and Blue: Colors Affect Thinking

Psychologically speaking, colors represent such an important aspect of our environments, and are usually what we dwell upon the most when decorating our places. That’s why it is easy to understand the popularity of research about effects that colors have on people. However, among all there is to learn, I consider a systematic series of experiments based on theory such as this by Mehta and Zhu (2009) a rare, precious find.

Carefully selected colors; photo by IDA Interior LifeStyle

Authors aimed to investigate how red and blue affect performance on tasks that require different thinking processes, and to explain why those colors have those exact effects.

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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.

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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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January 29, 2011

Home Design and Personality Related

When starting a blog about relationship between people and space, the first topic that comes to my mind from a psychologist point of view is how does one’s home or workspace reflect their personality? We actively shape our environment to suit our needs, but are cues from our living space enough for strangers to learn something about us?

photo by hownowdesign

I think that when we see someone’s apartment, we instantly imagine how they live their live there. Do they read much? Listen to music? What kind of music? Collect vinyl records? Cook a lot? Do sports?  And, based on conclusions about their behaviour, we draw further conclusions about their personality. But, are those impressions accurate? Are people who read a lot intellectual and broad-minded, and people who do sports energetic and positive?

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