A tidy desk and office makes people think you have stable emotions, an agreeable personality and a conscientious nature, new research finds.
A cluttered desk, though, is linked to being neurotic, disagreeable and disorganised.
Essentially, people make a direct link from an untidy office to negative personality traits.
All is not lost, though, for messy people.
Messy desks have been linked to breaking rules and higher creativity in previous research.
The latest conclusions come from a study in which 160 people sat in three offices of varying levels of tidiness.
They were then asked to make judgements about the occupant’s personality.
Professor Terrence Horgan, who led the study, explained the results:
“When there are cues related to less cleanliness, order, organization and more clutter in an owner’s primary territory, perceivers’ ascribe lower conscientiousness to the owner, whether that owner is a worker in the real world (office), a job-seeker (apartment), a student (bedroom) or a researcher at a university (lab office).”
Ms Sarah Dyszlewski, study co-author, said:
“Once trait information about a target becomes activated in perceivers’ minds, either consciously or unconsciously, that information can subsequently affect how they process information about, the types of questions they ask of, and how they behave toward the target, possibly bringing out the very trait information that they expected to see from the target in the first place.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences (Horgan et al., 2019).