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Your Physical Environment May Influence Your Integrity

Physical Environment May Influence IntegrityNew research suggests expansive physical settings can lead people to feel powerful, and thus more apt to engage in dishonest behavior.

An expansive physical setting may be characterized by having a big desk to stretch out while doing work, or a large driver’s seat in an automobile.

Columbia Business School researchers believe body postures influence feelings of power and that these feelings can elicit dishonorable conduct such as stealing, cheating, and even traffic violations.

“In everyday working and living environments, our body postures are incidentally expanded and contracted by our surroundings — by the seats in our cars, the furniture in and around workspaces, even the hallways in our offices — and these environments directly influence the propensity of dishonest behavior in our everyday lives,” said doctoral student Andy Yap, a key author of the research.

The study states that while individuals may pay very little attention to ordinary and seemingly innocuous shifts in bodily posture, these subtle postural shifts can have tremendous impact on our thoughts, feelings and behavior.

Building on previous research that expansive postures can lead to a state of power, and power can lead to dishonest behavior, the study found that expanded, nonverbal postures forced upon individuals by their environments could influence decisions and behaviors in ways that render people less honest.

“This is a real concern. Our research shows that office managers should pay attention to the ergonomics of their workspaces. The results suggest that these physical spaces have tangible and real-world impact on our behaviors” said Yap.

Investigators evaluated findings from four studies conducted in the field and the laboratory.

One study manipulated the expansiveness of workspaces in the lab and tested whether “incidentally” expanded bodies (shaped organically by one’s environment) led to more dishonesty on a test.

Another experiment examined if participants in a more expansive driver’s seat would be more likely to “hit and run” when incentivized to go fast in a video-game driving simulation.

To extend results to a real-world context, an observational field study tested the ecological validity of the effect by examining whether automobile drivers’ seat size predicted the violation of parking laws in New York City.

The field study revealed that automobiles with more expansive driver’s seats were more likely to be illegally parked.

Source: Columbia Business School

Office space photo by shutterstock.

Your Physical Environment May Influence Your Integrity

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Your Physical Environment May Influence Your Integrity. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 16, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2013/06/25/physical-environment-may-influence-integrity/56449.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.