-- Robert Preidt
SATURDAY, Aug. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Having an organized
workspace seems to encourage positive behaviors such as generosity,
while a messy office may promote creative thinking and stimulate
new ideas, according to new research.
For the study, researchers asked volunteers to fill out some
questionnaires in an office. Some did the task in a clean and
orderly office and others did it in an untidy room, with papers and
office supplies strewn about.
After completing the questionnaires, the participants were
allowed to take a candy bar or an apple on their way out and also
were given an opportunity to donate to a charity.
Being in tidy surroundings seemed to encourage people to do what
was expected of them, said study author Kathleen Vohs, a
psychological scientist at the University of Minnesota. The
participants who were in the clean office were more likely to
donate more to charity and to choose the apple over the candy bar,
the University of Minnesota researchers said.
But the investigators believed that a messy office might have
some benefits, too. They conducted another experiment in which
participants were asked to come up with new ways to use ping pong
People who did this in either the cluttered or tidy office came
up with the same number of ideas for using ping pong balls.
However, the ideas generated by those working in the messy office
were considered more interesting and creative, according to the
study, which was published in the Aug. 1 online edition of the
"Being in a messy room led to something that firms, industries and societies want more of: creativity," Vohs said.
The researchers also found that, given a choice between a new or
established product, people in the the messy office were more
likely to prefer the new item while those in the tidy office
preferred the established product.
"Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights," Vohs suggested. "Orderly environments, in contrast, encourage convention and playing it safe."
Zero to Three explains how
creativity helps children learn.
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