How big is your desk?

statusThe Apprentice is currently airing here on UK television.  The undoubted set piece spectacle of the show takes place in the boardroom, where Sir Alan Sugar generally dresses down the hapless candidates before sending one of them out into the ether.  There are a number of classic power cues present in that boardroom setting, such as Sugars’ chair being the largest in the room, that subconsciously tell all present who is in charge.

Most research into these sort of things have revolved around the power they attempt to portray, but an interesting study by Columbia University has looked at whether the layout of our offices can affect the honesty of our work.

“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,” says Andy Yap, who conducted the research as a PhD student at Columbia University.

They found that when particular postures are forced upon us by our surroundings and environments, that this could influence our decisions and behaviours in such a way as we become more dishonest.  For instance, having an office that gives us the feeling and perception of power can subsequently make us behave in a more dishonest way.


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