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Your House is Full of Emotions Says Study on Room-Specific Feelings

Is the living room sad? The kitchen anxious? One new study seeks to determine how a room really feels.

A handy breakdown on how each room "feels," according to University of Texas, Austin.

Do you ever walk into someone’s house and get, well, just kind of depressed? Some might call it bad Feng Shui, but a new survey of “domestic ambiances” says that certain rooms really do have the ability to make us feel very specific, very tangible emotions. Led by a group of psychologists at U of T Austin, 200 people were given a list of 18 hypothetical rooms that typically exist within an “ideal” home, and asked them to pick two “ambiance descriptions” of each space. According to City Lab, one of the exact questions was, “as you enter each of the following spaces, what are the most important emotions or perceptions you would like to evoke within yourself and others?” The psychologists supplied 29 pre-selected words, which were available to choose from for those without linguistic creativity.


The results were pretty unsurprising. The top five “ambiances” for each room accounted for about two-thirds of the total descriptions, leading to a general consensus that suggests “both that people do have a sense about which ambiances they desire in each room and that these ambiance and room preferences are shared by others in the sample,” according to Perspectives on Psychological Science.

Oddly, one of the rooms that elicited the most uniform emotions was the master closet. As City Lab reports, more than “half the respondents used the word organization to describe it, followed by abundance and privacy. The term sophistication also made the top five, with a caveat that the researchers didn’t control for per capita ownership of argyle socks.”

People also seemed to come to a consensus that the entryway, front porch, and guest rooms were all “inviting,” and that the garage and utility rooms also made them think of “organization.” Unsurprisingly, the master bedroom seemed to elicit feelings of romance, as did the master bath. The only two rooms without a major consensus were the sitting room and backyard, which makes sense considering all the potentially bonkers ways a family could misuse a backyard.

The researchers let it be known that this study was merely a “preliminary” scientific attempt to chart a room’s emotional qualities (though they seem to have left out that Anthropologie has already been doing this for years). It’s also hazy as to whether this research quantifies how participants perceive spaces, or how they’d like to perceive, say, their own home’s foyer. The study also acknowledges that income, age, location, and culture play a pivotal role in how people perceive spaces. Not to mention access to HGTV and a good Pottery Barn catalog.

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