15 July 2013

If by nature you have expansive characteristics, you may have to constrain yourself!

Research into ergonomics suggests that people with a preference for an expansive environment, for power posing and the opportunity to spread out, with a big desk, or wide car seat – have a predisposition for dishonesty.  People who like a big desk are more likely to cheat and steal; people who prefer cars with a large driver’s seat seem more inclined to commit driving offences.  The researchers’ thesis is that having a larger space leads us to adopting expansive postures, which in turn influence our psychology.

The Ergonomics of Dishonesty records four studies showing how body postures, influenced by our environment, lead to increases in dishonesty. Experiments found that individuals who engaged in expansive postures (either explicitly or inadvertently) were more likely to steal money, cheat on a test, and breach the road code.  A study found that cars with more expansive driver’s seats were more likely to be illegally parked on New York City streets. “Taken together, results suggest that: (1) environments that expand the body can inadvertently lead us to feel more powerful, and (2) these feelings of power can cause dishonest behaviour.”

The study does not comment whether having a personal office may also adversely affect our psychology, as if it were an extension of a big desk.  Perhaps to promote integrity, agencies should have open plan arrangements for all staff.  As a non sequitur, the Crown Law offices to which Crown Counsel and support staff moved this month are open plan.