Environment

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The Effects of Interior Design on Communication and Impressions of
a Counselor in a Counseling Room
Yoshiko Miwa and Kazunori Hanyu
Environment and Behavior 2006 38: 484
DOI: 10.1177/0013916505280084
The online version of this article can be found at:
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ENVIRONMENT
10.1177/0013916505280084
Miwa,
Hanyu / EFFECTS
AND BEHA
OF INTERIOR
VIOR / JulyDESIGN
2006

THE EFFECTS OF INTERIOR DESIGN ON
COMMUNICATION AND IMPRESSIONS
OF A COUNSELOR IN A COUNSELING
ROOM

YOSHIKO MIWA is a graduate student in the doctoral program at Nagoya University. She majors in clinical and environmental psychology and works as a counselor at
a junior high school in Mie, Japan. Both theoretically and practically, she is interested in environmental factors related to counseling. Currently, she also studies environmental factors related to adolescents’ solitude and self-insight.
KAZUNORI HANYU is an associate professor of psychology at College of Humanities and Sciences of the Nihon University in Tokyo, Japan. He received his Ph.D. from
the Ohio State University in 1995. His current research focuses on meanings of places
and environmental issues in crimes.

ABSTRACT: This study aimed to investigate effects of the interior design of a counseling room on participants’ self-disclosure and impressions of a counselor. The
authors examined the effects of lighting and decorations. It tested four conditions
crossing decorations (with or without home-like decorations) and type of lighting
(bright or dim). Eighty undergraduate students (clients) were randomly assigned to
one of the conditions and individually underwent a structured interview with an interviewer (a counselor) and then completed a questionnaire. The results showed that dim
lighting yielded more pleasant and relaxed feelings, more favorable impressions of
the interviewer, and more self-disclosure than did the bright lighting. However, the
authors found no predominant pattern of the decorations. Thus, the pleasant and relaxed feelings related to dim lighting may well enhance the perceived attractiveness
of a counselor and self-disclosure from clients. The results imply that interior design
could influence communication and other relationships in counseling rooms.
Keywords:

counseling room; interior design; communication

Can a room environment facilitate counseling, affecting clients’self-disclosure
or the interpersonal relationship between a client and a counselor? Although
ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR, Vol. 38 No. 4, July 2006 484-502
DOI: 10.1177/0013916505280084
© 2006 Sage Publications

484
Downloaded from eab.sagepub.com at Alexandru Ioan Cuza on January 8, 2014

relaxing. image. proximity of rest room. natural. because the counselors often selected the location of their rooms on economic grounds or within a general plan of their parent organizations (such as a university or public institutions). two straight backed chairs. Anthony and Watkins (2002) consider the treatment setting as an intriguing area of overlap between environmental and clinical psychology. soundproof doors and walls and background music) in the rooms. Zarhy. degree of visibility. and so on. Their informal interviews with therapists revealed 12 issues of importance in the design of the counseling setting: location.g.g. an indirect overhead light.ac. lighting. and so on. a soft armchair. two mahogany desk and chair combinations. an overhead bulb with a dirty. They found that the counselors paid attention to the atmosphere (e. & Zohar. ill-fitting lampshade. 2002). privacy. a metal bookcase. 1998). 3-25-40. Tokyo 156-8550.com at Alexandru Ioan Cuza on January 8. Nihon University. and sound (e. some art objects. an indirect overhead light. flower vases and foliage plants).. Sasson. plants. Downloaded from eab. a mahogany desk and chair combination.. Faculty of Literature and Science. furniture. paintings on the walls. plants (e. entrance and exits. 2014 . Yet. little research has examined the healing potential related to the design of the counseling space (Pressly & Heesacker. most counselors have found the importance of physical conditions of counseling settings from their experience. two straight-backed chairs..jp). The study tested three room conditions: A beautiful room had beigecolored walls. An ugly room had battleship-gray walls. INTERIOR CONDITIONS AND HUMAN BEHAVIOR An early work by Maslow and Mintz (1956) showed that the aesthetic conditions in rooms affected participants’ ratings on photographs of human faces. Setagaya-ku.g. Japan (e-mail: khanyu@chs. 2001). Hanyu / EFFECTS OF INTERIOR DESIGN 485 mental health professionals have believed that the counseling setting can influence treatment and outcome (Gross. Department of Psychology. easy-toread clocks. If and how those conditions affect the counseling conditions and outcomes—the counselors and organizations should be made aware. or plain). a small AUTHORS’ NOTE: Please address correspondence to Kazunori Hanyu. views. Sakurajousui. and artwork (Anthony & Watkins.nihon-u . Miwa and Hanyu (2002) studied the furniture arrangement of 74 counseling rooms in Japan and interviewed 23 counselors about the physical environments where they work. they reported that they could do nothing about the physical design of the rooms or the buildings in which the rooms were placed (Miwa & Hanyu.sagepub. soft. 2002).Miwa. Thus. An average room had battleship-gray walls.

For example. Sommer (1969) found that female geriatric participants’conversation levels improved in a warm or sociofugal atmosphere that consisted of flowers. 1988).. The effects by aesthetic interior design may be likely to become more significant through the interaction of visual quality with interpersonal factors and longer-term exposure. less harried. and headache and showed irritability and hostility. and soft lighting) than in a hard one (cement block walls and fluorescent lighting). comfortable. Kasmar. Mintz (1956) found that the participants in the ugly room were more likely to complain of monotony. Locasso concluded that the effects would have arisen through social interaction over time on which he did not test the effects of aesthetics (Locasso. rugs. fatigue. cushioned furniture. and so on. Morrow & McElroy. 1968.com at Alexandru Ioan Cuza on January 8. In a study of the long-term effects on participants. thereby decreasing their pleasant feelings (Campbell. and pleasant. pretty. Our study sought to investigate the effects of room quality on participants’ self-disclosure and impressions on an interviewer. 1979. vases. and they expected the professor of the office to be more affable. 2014 . mops. COMPONENTS OF PLEASANT INTERIOR DESIGN Many of the previous studies (e. 1988.sagepub. Perhaps the effects on feelings. Chaikin. In Locasso’s (1988) replication of Maslow and Mintz’s study. controlling experimental artifacts such as time spent in the rooms. Locasso. Mintz.g. Chaikin et al. however. The character of the room may also affect communications. 1956. magazines. and to talk common interests. and Miller (1976) found higher levels of self-disclosure to an interviewer in a soft room (pictures on the wall.486 ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR / July 2006 table. and they rated the photographs of faces as having more energy and well-being than the same photographs in the average or ugly rooms. & Mauritzen. Griffin. 1956) examined the effect of many interior elements at once without testing effects Downloaded from eab. Campbell (1979) and Morrow and McElroy (1981) reported that the students felt more comfortable and welcome when seated in a clean office with foliage plants and posters. he found no effects of the interior environment. impressions of others and communication apply to counseling settings. and social-interaction effects. Participants assigned to the beautiful room tended to describe it as attractive. 1956. and so on. Several studies on the impact of university environments on students’ responses supported these findings. In contrast. 1981). Derlega. students perceived the professors in cluttered offices as hurried and busy. 1976. 1956) beautiful versus ugly room. symbolic instructions to participants. Mintz. Note the overlap between the soft versus hard room and the Maslow and Mintz’s (Maslow & Mintz.. Maslow & Mintz. trash cans.

Of particular relevance to the present study. a wooden wastebasket. Perhaps the findings do not apply to oral communications with an unknown interviewer. Spencer.e. cement block walls painted yellow. a rectangular table with a straight back chair. and so on. and lighting in total. privacy. an abstract picture on a wall. 1988). which might enhance comfort and intimate communications. Flynn. trash cans. serving as a counselor.. Gifford believed that the presence of art posters and decorative rugs help to create a home-like atmosphere. Martyniuk.. Thus. he found that dim lighting increased people’s impression of relaxation and privacy that implied feelings people could talk more intimately to others (Flynn. a floor ramp. magazines. Obviously. and bright–dim) and found judgments of visual clarity. Gifford (1988) pointed out two important features of rooms to provide positive impression and feeling: home-like decorations and dim lighting. and a table ramp. lighting and in particular its brightness may well Downloaded from eab. mops.sagepub. relaxation.Miwa. and the ugly room had an overflowing. The soft room used by Chaikin et al. and overhead fluorescent lighting. gray. Dim lighting plays an important role on relaxing feelings and emotion to others in rooms (e. 2014 . and pleasantness related to them. a small table. metal waste basket and ashtray.com at Alexandru Ioan Cuza on January 8. 1988). a soft armchair. Gifford’s study found that bright light increased both general communication and intimate communication to friends in the written communications move than dim light (Gifford. Flynn. 1973). Other research has found that people give higher ratings to an imaginary employee under lower (dim) than higher (bright) illumination (Baron. the difference between beautiful rooms and ugly rooms was mainly made by the quality and quantity of furniture. 1988. 1992). unkempt work papers strewn on furniture. He also believed that lower (i. an indirect light. an ashtray. a mahogany desk and chair combination. decorations. Rea. framed pictures.g. Maslow and Mintz’s (1956) beautiful room had beige-colored walls. & Daniels. artificial plants. dim) lighting would produce lower arousal and increase calmness and intimate communication whereas bright light would increase arousal. Hanyu / EFFECTS OF INTERIOR DESIGN 487 related to a particular feature. (1968). Flynn has examined three salient dimensions of artificial lighting (uniform–nonuniform. 1992. & Hendrick. the beautiful room had a burned yellow carpet. and some art objects. spaciousness. two straight backed chairs. paintings on the walls. a cushioned armchair. and make people more talkative in general (Gifford. we do not know what features or combinations of features account for those effects. (1976) had an oriental rug. and overhead fluorescent lighting. Although beautiful rooms may have salutary effects. For example. overhead–peripheral. and their hard room had a brown asphalt floor. and their ugly room had battleship-gray walls. 1988). an overhead bulb with a dirty ill-fitting lampshade. In Kasmar et al. and indirect lighting.

First. people should judge the space as more pleasant (Steffy. we examined the effects of dim lighting and home-like decorations. Thus.488 ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR / July 2006 influence clients’ impressions of environments. METHOD PARTICIPANTS Eighty undergraduate students (male = 39. Furthermore. and interpersonal communication. mean of ages = 20. the combinations of existence of home-like decorations (with or without). He suggested that home-like decorations probably induce comfortableness while evoking sense of refuge and guardedness that is associated with home.sagepub. the counselor. 2014 . and the amount of participants’ self-disclosure to the interviewer would be greater in the conditions with dim lighting and home-like decorations than with only bright lighting.2 years) from introductory psychology classes of Nihon University served as participants. we employed four conditions. 1990). 1988). Downloaded from eab. the interviewer would be evaluated more positively.com at Alexandru Ioan Cuza on January 8. Gifford (1988) found that home-like decorations improved both general and intimate communications among female undergraduate participants. female = 41. and similar to impressions of the environment. Second. Decorations and lighting might interact. As the major components of aesthetic or pleasant rooms. so their positive impressions on an interviewer and the amount of self-disclosure would be greatest in all the conditions. To investigate the independent and interactive effects. both of which might encourage communication (Gifford. their combination may accentuate the pleasant feelings more than either feature alone. we believe that counseling settings with home-like decorations would evoke comfortable feelings and more open communication. This study primarily aimed to investigate the pleasant effects by interior design on participants’impression on an interviewer and their self-disclosure in a counseling room. we hypothesized that participants would judge the conditions with dim lighting and with homelike decorations as more pleasant and relaxing than with bright lighting and no decorations. As both home-like decorations and dim lighting should increase relaxation. With regard to decorations. and types of lighting (bright or dim). the combination of dim lighting and home-like decorations would promote participants’ relaxed impression most. If the lighting harmonizes with decorations.

sagepub. A video camera was place on the corner of a 120cm (height) × 25cm (depth) × 220cm (width) ledge. Figure 1 shows the four room conditions. a beige tablecloth on the table. and a third incandescent table lamp (36W) was placed in the center of the room. and the participant sat on the other.com at Alexandru Ioan Cuza on January 8.Miwa. the incandescent lamps off. The room had white walls. (C) Without Decorations and Dim Lighting. The without decorations and bright lighting condition had no decorations in the room. 2014 . A 110cm (height) × 100cm (depth) × 120cm (width) wooden table with two steel chairs with leather cushions on either side. two fluorescent lamps (40W) in the ceiling. two incandescent lamps (36W) on the east wall. The interviewer sat on one chair. three framed Downloaded from eab. and an incandescent table lamp (36W) on a table. various small objects (such as two stuffed dolls. and (D) With Decorations and Dim Lighting CONDITIONS IN A COUNSELING ROOM The room in this study was used for actual counseling. and the fluorescent ceiling lamps on. The with decorations and bright lighting condition had a beige carpet on the floor. It was 250cm (height) × 230cm (depth) × 220cm (width) with one door and no windows. (B) With Decorations and Bright Lighting. Hanyu / EFFECTS OF INTERIOR DESIGN 489 Figure 1: Four Conditions in a Counseling Room: (A) Without Decorations and Bright Lighting.

sagepub. and the incandescent lamps on. exciting–boring. 2 and 4 for fairly. These questions were designed to extract self-reflective answers and standardized to minimize the effect of the interviewer’s bias (Kii & Miwa. 2002). and 3 for neutral. relaxing–distressing. based on the Ego Identity Status Interview for university students (Muto. We employed the Affective Appraisal Scale (Hanyu. the fluorescent ceiling lamps off. and the fluorescent ceiling lights were on. Downloaded from eab. The intensity of illumination on the table was 750lx in the two bright-lighting conditions and 150lx in the two dim conditions.g. 2 and 6 for fairly. and a framed drawing of a bridge decorated one wall faced by the participant. according to a script. We did not inform her of the purpose of this experiment. 1997. INTERVIEWER AND CONTENT OF INTERVIEW A female graduate student (24 years old) majoring in counseling psychology at Nihon University served as the interviewer. The scale that was based on Osgood’s three dimensions of meaning (e. The without decorations and dim lighting condition had no room decorations.490 ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR / July 2006 pictures of flowers. Impressions of the interviewer. We used the Personal Characteristic Scale (Hayashi. Osgood & Suci. The with decorations and dim lighting condition had the same decorations as the with decorations and bright lighting condition and the same lighting as the without decorations and dim lighting condition: The incandescent lamps were switched on. interesting– uninteresting. 1955) was made to assess general impressions of persons. 1 and 5 stood for very. and artificial flowers on a vase placed on the ledge). 2014 . She interviewed every participant. MEASURES Impressions of the interior environment. and 4 for neutral (see the appendix).com at Alexandru Ioan Cuza on January 8.. 2000) to investigate the differences of participants’ impressions of the environment across the four conditions and to check the manipulation of the interior physical appearance as independent variables. The scale had six 5-point bipolar adjectives to assess the affective appraisals of the environment: pleasant–unpleasant. safe–fearful. 1979) that had 20 questions. 1978) to measure the participants’ impressions of the interviewer. and the fluorescent lamps in the ceiling were switched off. and active– inactive. 3 and 5 for slightly. The scale had 20 7-point bipolar adjectives where 1 and 7 stood for very. and we eliminated students who knew the interviewer from the study. The incandescent lamps were off.

The participant entered and sat on one chair and then the interviewer started to interview him or her. Each interview lasted about 20 min. In addition. the participant was debriefed about the true purpose of the study. we will record your conversation in the room by a video camera to check your protocols. We also used three 7-point scales (from 1 = not at all to 7 = very much) to assess participants’ reactions to their talking: “How much could you speak about yourself to the interviewer?” “How much did your talk reflect your private aspects?” and “How much did you feel relaxed to speak in the conversation?” These served as measures of the adequacy of the self-disclosure by the participants. 2014 . please answer a questionnaire after the interview in the room. the interviewer was sitting on the chair that faced toward the door and waiting for the participant. Instead of the actual purpose of this study. the Personal Characteristic Scale (Hayashi. When the participant entered the room. the data from male and female participants were combined in all the analyses. the interviewer asked him or her to sit down in the chair faced by the interviewer. Procedure. Then. In the room. Please go into the room and freely respond to the questions asked by the counselor. we instructed each participant that the interview aimed to investigate adolescents’ self and identity as follows: Starting now. 1997. Consequently. Meanwhile. Downloaded from eab. you are individually interviewed about yourself and your identity by a female counselor for 20 min in a counseling room. After the interview. The counselor is waiting for you in the room.1 RESULTS Preliminary analyses indicated no gender differences on any of the dependent measures. the interviewer asked the participant to complete a questionnaire that included the Affective Appraisal Scale (Hanyu. the recorded video tapes would be kept confidential.com at Alexandru Ioan Cuza on January 8. 2000).Miwa. The participants were randomly assigned to one of the four conditions. and three question items to rate his or her talk while sitting in the interviewer’s presence. We measured the duration of speaking times up to 15 min from the first question in the interviews. The duration of speaking times of each participant were measured by a chronograph in the recorded video tapes. Hanyu / EFFECTS OF INTERIOR DESIGN 491 Self-disclosure.sagepub. however. 1978).

Factor 2.2 have been showed as —.56 40.44 40.63 27.50. 1997.37 2.sagepub. To examine the differences of the impressions of the environment among the four conditions. we obtained the results shown in Table 1 by using an oblique rotation method (Promax Rotation). and safe was labeled pleasant–calming factor.68 — — .47 .com at Alexandru Ioan Cuza on January 8.492 ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR / July 2006 TABLE 1 The Factor Structure of the Affective Appraisal Scale Variables Pleasant–unpleasant Relaxing–distressing Safe–fearful Exciting–boring Active–inactive Interesting–uninteresting Eigenvalue Variance explained by each factor (%) Cumulative explained by each factor (%) Interfactor correlations Factor 1 Factor 2 Factor 1 Factor 2 Communality . 75] = 8. p < .24.24 1. Factor 1. a two-way (Types of Lighting × Existence of Decorations) crossed design of multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was performed on the mean scores of the two factors.01. 2014 .44. The mean scores of the two factors were calculated from the scores of the items whose loading on a factor exceeded 0. which had high loading for pleasant.49 — — . Table 2 shows the mean scores of the two factors in all conditions.63. p < .00 .01).14 67.71 . which had high loading for exciting. The result showed a main effect of types of lighting (F[2.81 . IMPRESSION OF THE INTERIOR ENVIRONMENT A factor analysis performed on the Affective Appraisal Scale (Hanyu.56 .00 NOTE: Values less than 0. active. relaxing. Downloaded from eab.51 1. using Wilks’s lambda criterion). 2000) yielded a two-factor solution as statistically viable (eigenvalue of Factor 1 = 2. and interesting was named arousing factor.71%).75 . No significant differences emerged for the arousing factor scores across the conditions. and variance explained by the two factors = 67.56.32 1.70 .79 . Follow-up univariate analyses showed that the mean scores of the items included in the pleasant–calming factor were significantly higher in the dim than the bright light conditions (F[1.51 .29 . 76] = 15.85 .24). eigenvalue of Factor 2 = 1.57 . Because the two factors were correlated with each other (r = .

Osgood & Suci.82 0. Because some items of the scale were correlated with each other. a two-way (Types of Downloaded from eab.50 or overlapped on one or more factors.86%). familiar. Factor 2. and servile would represent the active dimension. 1979.14. which had high loadings for shy.01.g. These three factors obtained in this study corresponded with Osgood’s three dimensions of meaning: evaluation.50. Hanyu / EFFECTS OF INTERIOR DESIGN 493 TABLE 2 The Differences of Mean Scores of Indexes of Each Factor (Pleasant–Calming or Arousing) in the Affective Appraisal Scale Among the Four Conditions Bright Lighting Without Decorations Variables Pleasant–calming** Arousing M SD 3.sagepub. 1982b) have shown inconsistencies in the factor structure of the Personal Characteristic Scale (Hayashi. eigenvalue of factor 3 = 2. Factor 3. **p < . and it was labeled activity factor.70 0.59 Without Decorations With Decorations M SD M SD 3.45 0.34. a factor analysis performed on the 20 bipolar items in the scale yielded a three-factor solution (eigenvalue of factor 1 = 5. we labeled factor 3 as reticence factor. 1955). Factor 1. IMPRESSION OF THE INTERVIEWER Because some studies (Hayashi. we repeated the factor analysis on 11 items.60 0. and discreet would represent weak or private and its opposite meanings might represent public or more potent.com at Alexandru Ioan Cuza on January 8. and modest would represent the evaluative dimension of meaning (e.74 3. 2014 . 1981.55 Dim Lighting With Decorations M SD 3. and variance explained by the three factors = 55. which had high loadings for pleasant. First. passive.64. 1978).Miwa.g. Osgood & Suci. pretty. good-humored.63 2. 1982a..83 2. prudent.70 0. which had high loadings for firm.22 0. Consequently. Figure 2 shows the mean scores of each factor in each condition. we obtained the results shown in Table 3 by using Promax Rotation. 1955). To examine the differences of impressions of the interviewer among the four conditions. The mean scores of the three factors were calculated from the rating of the items of which loading on one factor exceeded 0. and potency (e.. eigenvalue of factor 2 = 3. and it was labeled evaluative factor.45 NOTE: n = 80 in each cell.47 0. we examined the factor structure of the data obtained in this study.66 0.00 2. activity.74 2. Eliminating items of which loading on one factor were smaller than 0.

86 . using Wilks’s lambda criterion).33) than those in the bright lighting conditions Downloaded from eab. The result showed a significant main effect of types of lighting only (F[3.70 .63 .82 –.494 ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR / July 2006 TABLE 3 The Final Factor Structure of the Personal Characteristic Scale Variables Factor 1 Pleasant–unpleasant Good-humored–spiteful Unfamiliar–familiar Pretty–horrible Conceited–modest Firm–timid Servile–majestic Passive–active Prudent–imprudent Indiscreet–discreet Shy–shameless Eigenvalue Variance explained by each factor (%) Cumulative explained by each factor (%) Interfactor correlations Factor 1 Factor 2 Factor 3 Factor 2 Factor 3 .31 2. The result of a two-way (Types of Lighting × Existence of Decorations) crossed design of analysis of variance revealed a significant main effect of the types of lighting (F[1.80 –.20 s.00 Communality . 2014 .24.55 NOTE: Values less than 0.77 .2 have been showed as —.sagepub. 76] = 8. 74] = 2.83 .93 65. Lighting × Existence of Decorations) crossed design of MANOVA was performed on the mean scores of the three factors.00 — — 1.54 1.49 14.61 30.46 .68 .75 .63 .00 s. p <.73 .45 20.68 .82 –.05).00 — 1.21 — — –.21 .80 . SD = 97. p < .62: with decorations and dim lighting: M = 463. 76] = 8.77 .45 50.05.99. Follow-up univariate analyses showed that only the mean score of the items included in the evaluative factor the interviewer was rated significantly higher in the dim lighting conditions than in the bright lighting conditions (F[1.69 1.65 .35 — . SD = 109. SELF-DISCLOSURE Figure 3 shows the means of the duration of speaking times of the participants in each condition.44 .60 30.com at Alexandru Ioan Cuza on January 8.64 .87 . p < .25 — — — — — — — . 01).28. The participants in the dim lighting conditions spoke longer (without decorations and dim lighting: M = 492.69 — — .25 — — — — — 3.

2014 .com at Alexandru Ioan Cuza on January 8.Miwa. Hanyu / EFFECTS OF INTERIOR DESIGN 495 Without Decorations & Lighting With Decorations & Lighting Without Decorations & Lighting With Decorations & Lighting 7 6 Mean Scores 5 4 3 2 1 Evaluative Activity Reticence Figure 2: The Mean Scores of the Items That Loaded on Three Factors (Evaluative Factor.sagepub. Activity Factor. and Reticence Factor) of the Impressions of the Interviewer in the Personal Characteristic Scale in the Four Conditions 500 480 Duration of Speaking Time (s) 460 440 420 Without Decorations With Decorations 400 380 360 340 320 300 Bright Dim Figure 3: The Mean Duration of the Participants’ Speaking Times (s) in the Four Conditions Downloaded from eab.

The result showed a marginal significant main effect of types of lighting only (F[3. the impressions of the interviewer also became more pleasant. 74] = 2. relaxing.sagepub. Furthermore. SD = 112. there is another possibility that the interviewer might have viewed the conditions with the dim lighting as more pleasant. Follow-up univariate analyses showed that the participants in the dim lighting conditions rated the question of “How much could you speak about yourself to the interviewer?” more highly than in the bright lighting conditions (F[1. pretty.10. SD = 99. p < . and modest than under the bright lighting (Figure 2). This fits Mintz’s (1956) conclusion that visual-aesthetic surroundings could have significant effects on persons exposed to them and that the participants’ pleasant feelings about the environment would spread to their impressions of the interviewer in that environment. as to the improvement of the interviewer’s impression in the conditions with dim lighting. we found no predominant pattern.496 ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR / July 2006 (without decorations and bright lighting: M = 378. like the participants and unconsciously conveyed her positive attitudes produced by the pleasant feeling to the participants. 2014 . although the contents of interviews were controlled in the present study. First. p < .05). good-humored.35). The types of lighting always had significant effects on the most dependent variables. 76] = 6. and calm than with the bright lighting (Table 2). the conditions with the dim lighting were rated more pleasant. Moreover. For home-like decorations. the improvement of Downloaded from eab.60 s. then influence the participants’ response. The favorable responses to dim lighting agreed with the expectation for it. the interviewer’s attitude might mediate the effect of lighting. The three questions about participants’self-rated feelings about their selfdisclosure had little internal consistency (Cronbach’s coefficient alpha = .10 s. using Wilks’s lambda criterion). a two-way (Types of Lighting × Existence of Decorations) crossed design of MANOVA was performed on the scores of each question. to examine the differences of the three questions among the four conditions. Thus. there were no significant differences among the four conditions.com at Alexandru Ioan Cuza on January 8.00).76. That is. For the other two questions. with decorations and bright lighting: M = 436.41.65. DISCUSSION The results showed that lighting affected participants’ impressions of the rooms and the interviewer and the amount of self-disclosure. and under the pleasant dim lighting. Locasso (1988) urged that aesthetic effects on person’s impression be mediated or amplified by social interaction.

1956. would facilitate self-disclosure. the participants might disclose themselves more frequently. and active atmosphere. 1956). the relatively less pleasant atmosphere from the bright lighting may possibly inhibit their intimate behavior. and Sommer’s (1974) argument that hard. the difference of role of settings (laboratory vs. Maslow and Mintz instructed the purpose of study to participants as an experiment of facial stereotype in a laboratory. unlike the Maslow and Mintz’s studies (Maslow & Mintz. Furthermore. Mintz.sagepub.Miwa. First. and perhaps the environment’s atmosphere itself may induce their intimate behavior—that is. Second. moderate selfdisclosure—directly. However. and counseling rooms in general might (and should) have a calm. because they regarded the interviewer in them as more favorable than the conditions Downloaded from eab. and inactive atmosphere rather than an interesting. especially by the dim lighting could affect speaking time (Figure 3). the favorable impression of the interviewer might mediate the participants’ self-disclosure to her. exciting. These results suggested that the participants might share more information related to them when they could speak longer. we instructed it as an interview about the participants and their identity in a counseling room. In addition. no independent variable induced the participants’ interesting. impervious architectural designs led to alienation from the place and people in it. Wada (1986) found that people disclosed more frequently to conversation partners who were regarded as more favorable. There are some possible explanations for the results about the participants’ self-disclosure. Hanyu / EFFECTS OF INTERIOR DESIGN 497 the interviewer’s impression in the conditions with dim lighting might be caused by interaction between the participants and the interviewer during the interviews. counseling room) and tasks in the settings (experiments vs. tense. the participants saw the dim lighting as more pleasant and relaxing than the bright lighting. scores of one question about the participants’ selfrated feelings about their self-disclosure (“How much could you speak about yourself to the interviewer?”) were higher in the dim lighting conditions than the bright lighting conditions. This agrees with Chaikin and Derlega’s (1974) suggestion that an attractive and soft room.com at Alexandru Ioan Cuza on January 8. exciting. In our study. Thus. 2014 . however. which is more similar to the environment in which friends interact. The participants in the present study might have seen the experimental room as a real counseling room. 1956) and the present study. In the conditions with dim lighting. under the dim lighting. Our results also supported the hypothesis that physical environments in counseling rooms. 1956. Mintz. interview) studied might explain the differences between Maslow and Mintz (Maslow & Mintz. and active impressions on the environment in our study (Table 2). the participants rated the interviewer more favorable than under the bright lighting (Figure 2).

through the interviewer. we expected to find similar results and we did. further studies and observations that focused on persons who really come to therapy or counseling should be needed to test the effects of lighting or decorations in counseling settings.sagepub.498 ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR / July 2006 with the bright lighting. our findings may not always bring about the same outcomes as this study in Downloaded from eab. this study focused on the physical variables that would have effect on communication between a counselor and a client. Gifford (1988) suggested that the situation in his study differed from those in Chaikin et al. 2014 . First. Thus. our result showed the participants’ self-disclosure was induced by the dim lighting. Gifford focused on established friendships between participants by written communication. we found none. such as serious troubles and high anxiety. To apply the findings to actual counseling room design. they may pay less attention to the surrounding decorations. Although Gifford (1988) found definite effects of home-like decorations. we have to consider some points. Consequently. Finally.. (1976). Second. it is difficult to judge whether the differences of lighting or decorations would have the similar effects to actual clients who have difficulties. Therefore. it is possible that a part of the environmental effect on the participants may be an indirect one. The findings suggested that dim lighting induced pleasant and relaxed feelings. more speaking time. As our study was conducted in the same situation as Chaikin et al. Conversations with an unknown interviewer (i. A possible reason for this is that the participants might feel tenser and concentrate more in the interviews with an unknown interviewer than in writing a letter to a friend. and self-rated self-disclosure moderately. which examined oral self-disclosure to a counselor. it would be possible that the interviewer’s feeling and various attitudes to the participants would become more familiar under the pleasant dim lighting. our findings suggest that in the counseling situation with an unknown interviewer. Thus. we considered that such change of interviewer’s behavior would be important for counseling. the dim lighting was effective and necessary to induce relaxation. favorable impression of the interviewer. a counselor) may be less easy than writing letters to well-known friends. the effect of dim lighting may change with the situation. Although Gifford (1988) revealed that the brighter lighting increased general and intimate communication more than lower lighting. but even if this possibility would be the case. Thus. and she might extract the participants’ self-disclosure more smoothly.e. in the live interaction with the counselor. Thus. the same as our interpretation about the results of impressions of the interviewer. Although the pattern of the effects for dim lighting differed from those found by Gifford (1988). as Gifford noted. We carefully controlled the interviewer’s speech.com at Alexandru Ioan Cuza on January 8. (1976). the participants were healthy undergraduate students in our study.

but many counselors want to know how to design and arrange their workplaces to make them more effective (Miwa. who focused on the friends’ communication. for example. In the future. such as group counseling and family therapy. 2002. the application of dim lighting and decorations to various types of communication should be examined more precisely in additional research. Besides these factors. especially dim lighting and decorations. It is implicated that the patterns of the effects from dim lighting and decorations might change with the types of communication.com at Alexandru Ioan Cuza on January 8.sagepub. this study highlighted the effects of aesthetic conditions in a counseling room. we consider counseling settings as areas of overlap between environmental and clinical psychology and recommend that counselors. Further explorations of physical variables may stimulate or inhibit development of relationships between counselors and clients. & Iinaga. clients’ anxiety level and so on could be conducted by replicating or expanding existing studies of the environmental psychology in counseling contexts. therapists and counselors conduct various treatments. Hanyu. revealed some different patterns of them from our study. In actual counseling. clinical psychologists. Like some researchers (e. there may also be more effective physical issues to conduct counseling for both counselors and clients. 1998). However. From the practical point of view. the knowledge about environmental factors in counseling such as effects of lighting helps counselors to practice their therapy more effectively. Anthony & Watkins. Gifford (1988). educational programs for counselors should include courses related to studies about therapeutic environments that have been explored in environmental psychology. Gross et al.Miwa. in press). 2014 .. Downloaded from eab. Finally.. Thus.g. and their organizations should be more conscious of environmental factors in their counseling rooms. psychiatrists. Japanese universities’ curriculums for official licenses of psychological counselors require no courses of environmental psychology. Hanyu / EFFECTS OF INTERIOR DESIGN 499 actual counseling in which the number of people and types of conversation are varied.

APPENDIX Personal Characteristic Scale . 2014 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 Fairly 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 Slightly 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 Neutral 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 Slightly NOTE: These adjectives were translated from original Japanese terms (Hayashi. Please answer freely based on your impression. 1978) to English by the authors.500 Downloaded from eab.sagepub.com at Alexandru Ioan Cuza on January 8. Active Spiteful Modest Friendly Horrible Broad-minded Unsociable Responsible Impudent Shameless Profound Gloomy Majestic Unpleasant Discreet Familiar Apathetic Timid Patient Unkind Very 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 Fairly 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 Very Passive Good-humored Conceited Unfriendly Pretty Narrow-minded Sociable Irresponsible Prudent Shy Frivolous Cheerful Servile Pleasant Indiscreet Unfamiliar Enthusiastic Firm Impatient Kind Direction: For each scale below. please circle one number from 1 through 7 that best describes your impression of the interviewer.

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