What Your Desk Says About You

Whether your desk is littered with piles of paper and used coffee mugs or neat and tidy without a speck of dust or clutter, that space reveals much about you, your work style and your personality, according to Sam Gosling, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin and author of the book “Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You.” “One of the reasons physical spaces, including one’s office desk, can be so revealing is that they’re essentially the crystallization of a lot of behavior over time,” Gosling explained to the BBC News in London. Drawing on Gosling’s research, Lily Bernheimer, an environmental psychology consultant and director at UK-based Space Works Consulting has developed five personality desk types, based in large part on personality research, environmental psychology and the “big five” personality traits: extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness to experience. Which one is yours? The five desk personalities:


1. The Clutterer
Clutterers, who tend to be extraverted and welcoming of their coworkers, have desks that are chaotic, colorful and covered in knick-knacks and personal effects. They enjoy being located near the action.


2. The Minimalist
Minimalists thrive on routine. In addition to having a very tidy and organized workspace, they are conscientious, disciplined and cautious. They are also hardworking, achievement-oriented and thrive on structure and planning.


3. The Expander
Expanders stake a definite claim on their area of the office. While they have dominant personality types and become quite defensive of their space, they do not necessarily respect the space of others. Instead, their personal stuff will encroach on coworkers’ space, such as placing a coat on someone’s chair. Think of it as marking territory.


4. The Personalizer
Personalizers create a workspace that truly defines who they are as people, be it through artwork, travel photos or mementos. They tend to score high in the personality trait of openness, which means they are creative, intellectual and open to new experiences.


5. The Surveyor
Surveyors seek quiet spaces and arrange their desks so they can see the door — often with their backs to the wall. They prefer their personal space and dislike too much distraction, stimulation or interaction with others. Surveyors are typically introverted (and some might even be grumpy), but they are also highly creative and productive. Just don’t sneak up on them!

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