Conservative or Liberal? Workspace Reveals All
Thu Sep 25, 8:46 AM ET
Your office or bedroom holds telltale signs of whether you are a conservative or a liberal, finds a new study. While political conservatives tend to keep a tidy, organized office, political liberals favor colorful, more stylish but cluttered spaces.
A person may hide their political ideology from others, including from pollsters, but the researchers were delighted to learn that a peek into subjects' living quarters or even workspaces could give that away.
Conservatives and liberals leave behind distinct "behavioral residue" that can be picked up by savvy scientists and possibly other observers, according to the study by New York University psychologist John Jost and his colleagues. The results are set for publication in a forthcoming issue of the journal Political Psychology.
The researchers took inventory of five office locations - a commercial real estate agency, an advertising agency, a business school, an architectural firm and a retail bank - all in a large U.S. city. They had observers check out the workspaces of 94 male and female employees. The subjects' average age was 37. The snoopers had no idea of the workers' political orientation.
Political orientation was measured with survey questions.
Liberals' offices were judged as significantly more distinctive, comfortable, stylish, modern, and colorful and as less conventional and ordinary, in comparison with conservatives' offices, Jost said.
The researchers also sent snoopers into the living spaces of 76 undergraduates at the University of California, Berkeley, arriving at similar results.
"Conservative rooms tended to be cleaner, more brightly lit, better organized, less cluttered, and also more conventional and ordinary in terms of decoration," Jost said during a panel discussion on "The Neuroscience of Elections and Human Decision-Making" at NYU, adding: "Conservatives' rooms were rated by independent raters as better organized and tidier in general."
Specifically, individuals who reported a more conservative ideology also had bedrooms that contained more organizational and cleaning supplies, including calendars, postage stamps, ironing boards and laundry baskets.
Liberals' rooms on the other hand were marked by more clutter, including more CDs, a greater variety of CDs, a greater variety of books and more color in the room in general.