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Culture & Religion

How Architecture Affects Our Psychology

We spend our lives inside buildings, our thoughts shaped by their walls. How do different spaces influence cognition? Is there an ideal kind of architectural structure for different kinds of thinking?

What’s the Most Recent Development?

A recent study into curvilinear versus rectilinear furniture reveals that homes and offices decorated with the former are felt to be warmer and more approachable than those with rectangular shaped chairs and sofas. Another conducted by psychologist Joan Meyers-Levyat the Carlson School of Management found that interior spaces with high ceilings give people greater feelings of being unrestrained and liberated. The color of a room, too, is a determiner of how we think when we are in it. People in a red room are better at solving practical problems while people in a blue room relax and let their imagination wander. 

What’s the Big Idea?

“We are only beginning to grasp how the insides of buildings influence the inside of the mind,” said Jonah Lehrer at his blog. “For now, it’s safe to say that tasks involving accuracy and focus—say, copyediting a manuscript, or doing some algebra—are best suited for short spaces with red walls. In contrast, tasks that require a little bit of creativity and abstract thinking benefit from high ceilings, lots of windows and bright blue walls that match the sky. The point is that architecture has real cognitive consequences, even if we’re just beginning to learn what they are.”


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