Sam Gosling, Ph.D., is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. His work has been widely covered in the media, including The New York Times, Psychology Today, NPR, and "Good Morning America," and his research is featured in Malcolm Gladwell's "Blink." Gosling is the recipient of the American Psychological Association's Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution. His first book, Snoop, was a New Scientist Editor's Pick for top books of 2008. His most recent research has focused on how animal psychology can inform theories of human personality and social psychology.
Question: Does cohabitation change the equation?
Sam Gosling: Oh, absolutely, and I think that’s very important. I mean, we want to be- we want people to see us in a certain way. Usually, I think, as I said, we want people to see us as we see ourselves. But absolutely- and I think that’s why we naturally look at spaces. I mean, other people in our world are the items that afford us the greatest threats and the greatest opportunities, whether they’re gonna be an enemy, a co-worker or a mate, or something like that, so I think that’s why we become highly-attuned to picking up these items in people’s spaces.
Question: What was the most remarkable thing you learned from writing the book?
Sam Gosling: I think I learned that- how closely-tied we are to the spaces in which we live and work. I think that I didn’t before realize how many different things we are doing with our physical space- in terms of how we’re making ourselves feel, in terms of the messages we’re sending to others.
And I didn’t really realize, I think, how- once you begin to see it from this perspective, you can look at all the items in your space and think, what is that doing? Why did I put that up there- that photo- rather than the other photo? Why do I have the photo on my desk facing me rather than facing the people who are coming in to visit me? And so, I think it has really sort of sensitized me to this really tight connection between ourselves and our spaces.
Recorded on: June 13, 2008.