Raise the Roof or Lower the Ceiling?

I found something interesting in a study titled The Influence of Ceiling Height: The Effect of Priming on the Type of Processing People Use (via Science Daily — my new favorite RSS subscription):

“When a person is in a space with a 10-foot ceiling, they will tend to think more freely, more abstractly,” said Meyers-Levy. “They might process more abstract connections between objects in a room, whereas a person in a room with an 8-foot ceiling will be more likely to focus on specifics.”

The research demonstrates that variations in ceiling height can evoke concepts that, in turn, affect how consumers process information. The authors theorized that when reasonably salient, a higher versus a lower ceiling can stimulate the concepts of freedom versus confinement, respectively. This causes people to engage in either more free-form, abstract thinking or more detail-specific thought. Thus, depending on what the task at hand requires, the consequences of the ceiling could be positive or negative.

If you are designing your next office or workspace, should you build in different ceiling types and plan to do different kinds of work in each one?  For lawyers, should you take your depositions in low-ceilinged rooms?

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