Sam Gosling snoops for a living. On Day 3 of THiNK 2013 Gosling, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Austin,Â revealed what our spaces tell us about our personality and aspirations in a presentation titled, ‘Your Personal Sherlock: What Your Spaces Say About You’.
His sharp sense of humour and unassuming nature had the crowd eager to engage with his questions. He observed that the psychology of space is a manifestation of our identity claims – a statement we make to others about our values, goals etc. We send signals to people about ourselves through our personal environment, with the clothes we wear, the music we listen to, how we organize our office space and even the things we have on our phone. He added that “Most of time, people are happier and healthier when other people view us, the way we view ourselves.” Human beings have what he called “thought and feeling regulators”, whose goal is to make us feel a certain way based on how we change our environment.
He said there are two deliberate things we as individuals do to our space. “We leave behind ‘behavioural residue’ by engaging in all kinds of activity that leave a material trace in their wake.” These spaces are so informative of people that it doesn’t just reveal one particular trait of the person but an aggregation of their behaviour. And the other thing is based on appearance – how we form opinions of others based on their appearance.
Gosling claimed that we can accurately judge a person’s behaviour by looking at the following five indices: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism. Gosling and his team had conducted several studies on people’s spaces ranging from student dorm rooms to looking at people’s spaces on their personal social networking accounts.
He probed the audience by asking them to think about two questions. Whether what people display about themselves on social media is an accurate assessment of themselves or, if they are displaying what they ideally want to be?
Gosling said he believed, “The spaces that we take are not random, but psychological. It says something about you. You want to be around people like you.”
By Donna Mathew