Show Details

Messy Rooms

February 24, 2014

Neat and messy environments may each have behavioral benefits.



Creative clutter. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

photo 3

(Photo Credit: Susanne Bard)

Past research has shown that being in a neat, clean environment can make people adopt higher moral standards.  University of Minnesota psychologist Kathleen Vohs decided to take a closer look. Her team compared the behavior of people in tidy rooms versus cluttered ones. After spending time in one or the other, people were given a choice of a healthy snack or a treat, and a chance to donate to charity.

KATHLEEN VOHS (University of Minnesota):

And what we found is that the people on the tidy room, the clean room, they were more likely to choose the apple over the chocolate bar, and they donated more money to charity.

On the other hand, they found that messy rooms seemed to make people more creative, and more interested in new products. She says neat and unkempt environments may trigger very different mindsets, each of which has its pros and cons. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.