Project Title: Environment, Traits, and Behavior

Faculty Sponsor: Terrence Horgan

Department: Psychology



Project Description: A new line of research has shown that people can make accurate inferences about the personality traits of the person who created a specific personal space (e.g., an office or a dorm room).  These trait inferences are based on the appearance of that person’s office/room, including its arrangement, décor, and upkeep.  A separate line of research has shown that a personality trait, once activated in the minds of people, may activate trait-consistent cognitions, feelings, and behaviors in them.  These two lines of research have not been brought together as yet.  Specifically, it is not known whether people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can be changed temporarily to be more in line with the trait that has been activated in them as a consequence of their exposure to the trait-relevant cues present in another person’s space.  The current line of research intends to fill this gap in the literature at two levels --- theoretical and empirical. The Environment-Trait-Behavior or ETB model will be proposed to account for the theorized link between trait-relevant environmental cues and trait-consistent behavior from people.  The ETB model will be tested in a series of experiments in which participants complete tasks in a research office designed and decorated to suggest a specific trait from the person who ‘owns’ that office.

Student Tasks & Responsibilities:  

  1. Assist PI with decorating experimental offices
  2. Conduct pretesting
  3. Do a Literature Search
  4. Data Coding and Analysis
  5. Maintain experimental offices

Minimum Qualifications: None listed.