U of M study: Messy workspaces fuel more creative behavior


University of Minnesota researchers discovered that the state of your work space, either messy or tidy, has a major influence on your creativity.

MPR reports Kathleen Vohs, a psychological scientist and professor at the Carlson School of Management, was motivated to conduct a study after she relocated to a different building while earning her PhD.

Moving to a more modern office space, where things were much neater, was having significant impact of her test subjects, Vohs said.

In the study, which was published online this week in the journal Psychological Science, subjects were asked to perform specified tasks in workspaces that were either clean or messy.

"People in the messy room are more creative," Vohs told MPR. "When people are in a tidy room, they seem to perform behaviors and make decisions that go along with what's expected."

MinnPost breaks down each experiment and its results.

"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, as noted in Science Daily. "We found, however, that you can get really valuable outcomes from being in a messy setting."

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