People in tidy work environments show more generosity and healthier food choices, while those in messy environments are more willing to be creative and take risks, according to a University of Minnesota study.
Do you prefer to work at a tidy desk with everything arranged just so? Congratulations – you’re probably a healthy eater, generous with your cash, and good at following rules.
But if you’ve got a cluttered desk piled with magazines, Post-its and paperwork, take heart – you might be a creative thinker and an idea machine.
The results come from a study published in the journal Psychological Science, in which researchers at the University of Minnesota designed a series of experiments to test the effects of an orderly or disorderly work environment on people’s behavior.
Specifically, said lead researcher Kathleen Vohs, a consumer psychologist and professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management, they wanted to see if there were any positive effects of working in a messy environment.
Previous studies have shown that cleanliness promotes good behavior, such as not committing crimes and displaying generosity.
“If a clean environment is all about doing what’s expected, then what does it mean to be doing things people don’t expect of you?” Vohs said. “That sounded like a loose definition of innovation and creativity.”