How room and desk size affect people’s comfort discussing personal issues

A new study suggests that people feel more comfortable talking about private matters in a larger room at a larger desk. It’s a result with obvious practical implications for professionals who require openness from their clients.

Vanessa Okken and her colleagues allocated their 86 participants (average age 22; 38 men) to speak to a female Masters student in one of four situations – at a small desk (80cm interpersonal distance) in a small (16 square meters) or larger room (19.8 square meters); or at a large desk (160cm interpersonal distance) in the same small or larger room.


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