Does your personality affect how you arrange your furniture?

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Proxemic behavior in faculty offices was studied by observing the effects of teacher attitudes on desk placements. In addition, two variables of job demand–number of students taught and advising responsibilities–were also surveyed to ascertain their relationship to desk placement. During interviews with 89 randomly selected faculty, the subjects completed a survey of educational attitudes while the interviewers sketched diagrams of the teachers’ offices. The data indicated that when a teacher high in traditionalist orientations had no advisees, the desk arrangement was usually closed. The teacher low on traditionalism with no advisees overwhelmingly chose an open desk arrangement. Apparently, individuals who see the world in different ways tend to use their territory in different ways as well. However, as the number of advisees increased to 16 or more, the high traditionalist teacher became indistinguishable from the low traditionalist teacher. In short, without some prior knowledge of both the number of advisees and the total number of students taught, any inferences made about the educational orientations of the faculty member based solely on office arrangement would be perilous. Thus, proxemic behavior, like all other human behavior, must be put into a total context to be meaningful.

Source: “Professor Proxemics: Personality and Job Demands as Factors of Faculty Office Arrangement.” from Environment and Behavior

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