Clean desk or messy desk – What’s your personality?

Practicing cleanliness may surely provide an insight of orderly and healthy behavior, but being not-so-clean has its own set of advantages, researchers have found.

According of the findings of a new study, people who work on messy desks are more creative and risk taking than those working on clean and prim desks.

However, working on tidy desks promotes healthy eating, generosity and conventionality, researchers say.

The study
For the purpose of the study researchers at the University of Minnesota conducted a series of experiments to test if working in an orderly or disorderly fashion effects people’s behavior.

In the first experiment, 34 students were assigned to perform in either a clean and prim room or in a cluttered work environment with papers scattered all around.

After finishing their task, the students were invited to make donation to a children’s charity and take either an apple or chocolate bar snack.

Researchers found that students working in neat rooms were more generous and had healthy eating habits. 82 percent of people working in the orderly room offered to make donation as against 47 percent in the messy room. Also, 67 percent chose the healthy apple compared to 20 percent in the messy room.

In the second experiment, participants were placed around either a neat or messy conference room table. During the session they were asked to brainstorm new uses for ping-pong balls.

Although people in both rooms generated the same number of ideas, the people working in messier room came out with more “highly creative” ideas, researchers highlighted.

In the third experiment, 188 participants sitting on a messy or clean computer table were made available menus of an imaginary smoothie restaurant. While one menu mentioned the smoothie as ‘classic,’ the other labeled it as ‘new.’

People sitting on messy computer tables were twice more likely to order the ‘new’ version of the smoothie as compared to those in neat rooms, suggesting that messy room workers are more risk taking.

“In general we want people to follow the rules, stick to the norms and do what’s expected of them. That’s how society is run,” she said. “But occasionally it is helpful to break free from all of that and branch out and do something fresh and new,” study’s lead researcher Kathleen Vohs, a consumer psychologist and professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management averred.

The findings of the study are reported in the Association for Psychological Science’s journal Psychological Science.

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