Sunday, April 28, 2013

Seating and Persuasion

For those who have spent time around the "hollow square," there is some research on how it affects the discussion:

Exploring the Impact of Various Shaped Seating Arrangements on Persuasion 

Rui (Juliet) Zhu & Jennifer Argo 
Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming 

Abstract: Despite the common belief that seating arrangements matter, little research has examined how the geometrical shape of a chair arrangement can impact persuasion. Across three studies, this research demonstrates that the shape of seating arrangements can prime two fundamental human needs which in turn influence persuasion. When seated in a circular shaped layout, individuals evaluate persuasive material more favorably when it contains family-oriented cues or majority endorsement information. In contrast, when seated in an angular shaped seating arrangement, individuals evaluate persuasive material more favorably when it contains self-oriented cues or minority endorsement. Further, results reveal that these responses to persuasive material arise because circular (angular) shaped seating arrangements prime a need to belong (need to be unique). Thus, this research shows that a subtle environmental cue – the shape of a seating arrangement – can activate fundamental human needs and consequently affect persuasion. 

(nod to Kevin Lewis)

1 comment:

Pelsmin said...

This is a basic principle of business meetings. If you sit 30 people in a "theater" layout, you get lectures (and lots of people doing email.) If you sit them in a circle or horse shoe layout you get engaged discussion and debate. If you set them in a "herringbone" layout, you can make presentations and get questions or exchanges on the presenter's points. All this is crucial to achieving the goal of business meetings when you need to persuade people, inform them, etc.