doe your messy desk stop you working?

The saying goes, a cluttered desk means a cluttered mind, but new research suggests that messy workspaces encourage creative thinking. Some ingenious tests devised by the University of Minnesota have shown that those with tidy desks are likely to be conformists and also eat more healthily. With an increasing focus on designing workplaces for wellbeing and performance, these new findings show that there is still a place for more unorthodox spaces that inspire different ways of thinking.  

Kathleen Vohs, Ph.D., and her fellow researchers at the University of Minnesota have published their findings in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
“Prior work has found that a clean setting leads people to do good things: Not engage in crime, not litter, and show more generosity,” Vohs said.
“We found, however, that you can get really valuable outcomes from being in a messy setting.”
In the first of several experiments, participants were asked to fill out some questionnaires in an office. Some completed the task in a clean and orderly office, while others did so in an unkempt one – papers were strewn about, and office supplies were cluttered here and there.
Afterward, the participants were presented with the opportunity to donate to a charity, and they were allowed to take a snack of chocolate or an apple on their way out.
Being in a clean room seemed to encourage people to do what was expected of them, Vohs explains. Compared with participants in the messy room, they donated more of their own money to charity and were more likely to choose the apple over the candy bar.
But the researchers hypothesized that messiness might have its virtues as well. In another experiment, participants were asked to come up with new uses for pingpong balls.
Overall, participants in the messy room generated the same number of ideas for new uses as their clean-room counterparts. But their ideas were rated as more interesting and creative when evaluated by impartial judges.

Read full story at

Image: creative commons