My Office Says I’m Crazy
A few weeks ago I was preparing to give a lecture on different ways of assessing people’s personality, when . . . I just lost you didn’t I? I promise it gets better.
There’s this psychologist, Sam Gosling, who has made a name by demonstrating how much our stuff reveals about us–anything from music tastes, to which photographs we choose to display, to how we organize our rooms. Now, any former avid reader of Domino Magazine (RIP) will tell you that, duh, we count on our spaces to reveal our fabulous tastes and clever solutions to tricky décor-related problems (like holes in the bathroom wall). But Gosling was more interested in what our stuff revealed about us that we probably didn’t even know it was revealing, so he did these studies where he had strangers go into people’s bedrooms and offices and make guesses about their personalities. I think we can all agree that this whole thing is a terrifying proposition. I live in fear that what my living room is telling people is that I spend far too many hours watching romcoms on Netflix instant and use store bought puff pastry.
So, back to my lecture. I figured I’d rally for some points with my students by revealing information about myself (oldest trick in the book). So I decided to show them a picture of MY home office to illustrate my point. It’s important to note that I was sitting two rooms away in my bedroom, twirling my hair, and imagining that my office was somehow a spotless modern ad for West Elm. Then I went in there to take the picture:
I mean, is that an electric toothbrush on the desk? And sure I realized that the wingback needs to be reupholstered, but now that I see it from my camera’s perspective, well. . . Sigh. Anyway, I think the mess is supposed to indicate that I’m high on openness to experience or something. Either that or it says “no wonder you developed an allergy to dust, you crazy person.”
Needless to say I’ve taken keeping my office clean a little more seriously since then. We’ll see how long it lasts.
Gosling, S. D., Ko, S. J., Mannarelli, T., & Morris, M. E. (2002). A Room with a Cue: Judgments of Personality Based on Offices and Bedrooms. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 379-398.