Send in the NeuroArchitect

Updated: May 26 2007, 05:30am hrs
Weve discussed primingthe idea that an attitude or concept can be activated in an individual by subtle cues without conscious awarenessmultiple times. Eg: Priming by Order, Priming by Customer, Thinking about Money [hyperlinks] and others. Now, researchers have found that something as subtle as a two-foot difference in ceiling height can alter the way the brain works.

Priming means a concept gets activated in a persons head, researcher Joan Meyers-Levy told LiveScience. When people are in a room with a high ceiling, they activate the idea of freedom. In a low-ceilinged room, they activate more constrained, confined concepts. The concept of freedom promotes information processing that encourages greater variation in the kinds of thoughts one has, said Meyers-Levy, professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota. The concept of confinement promotes more detail-oriented processing.

See Ceiling height alters how you think [hyperlink] This study triggers a whole cascade of individual questionsif a two-foot difference in ceiling height does this, what might the other architectural characteristics of the environment do How might a soaring cathedral ceiling compare to either eight or ten foot flat ceilings Would a windowless room, an office with a typical modest window, and one with floor-to-ceiling glass affect ones thought process in a different manner What about colors and textures.... For years, architects have boasted about the ability of their structures to spark creativity, enhance collaboration, and so on. While many probably dismissed these claims as mere puffery, now it seems that the research is beginning to make such claims more plausible. Back in 2005, we suggested that neuroarchitecture [hyperlink] might be the next big buzzword.... These new findings may reignite interest in that topic.

Neuromarketing aside, retail marketers have long employed architectural priming techniques. Most of these have been fairly obviousbanks built substantial masonry buildings with classical pillars to connote timeless stability, expensive clothing retailers created store environments with high-concept designs and high quality flooring and fixtures, etc... [neuromarketing psychology has a role in all this.] Perhaps the day of the neuroarchitect has arrived.