Desire to decorate blank walls: the psychology of our surroundings.

The extent to which we, as humans, are affected by our surroundings is not often regarded. We are, however, aware of it, somewhere in our incredibly complex brains. For example, why is it on the Sims that the mood of the character decreased when they weren’t happy with their surroundings? After all, why do we care so much about the cleanliness of our homes? When people come to visit, why do we obsessively clean every inch? Well, it may very well come down to our psychology. Or, is it part of our nature? The psychology of our surroundings… fascinating!

Why are our surroundings important?

There are different perspectives on what are “surroundings” and the different types that are available. For example, your surroundings can be your house, your hometown, the people who live with you, your friends, your work environment… quite simply, it is where you choose to be. The first phrases that you learn in a foreign language class are “Hello”, “What is your name?” and “Where are you from?” It makes us wonder – why does this phrase form part of our essential vocabulary? Why do we care?

Well, our surroundings affect our mood. And our surroundings ultimately form who we are as people. People tend to decorate their houses and homes with items that please their persona. For example, photographs of family, canvases of places that you have travelled to or places that you lived in previously… it all tends to draw from happy memories. Home is a special place, as it is your safe place – no matter where it is.

the psychology of our surroundings

The psychology of our surroundings: is it nature or nurture?

There is a lot of evidence that suggests that it is in our nature, as millions of years ago in dim caves our ancestors were carving drawings onto the walls of their caves. It is something that has continued with us, despite evolution. Creativity is a personality trait, it seems. You can try to teach creativity – however, it comes naturally better in some than others.

So, what is a personality? Well, it essentially the mental characteristics that distinguish one person from another. This includes thought patterns, emotions, hopes, dreams… There are many ways in which a personality can be expressed. Many people agree that a personality is unique to an individual. However, similar personalities can be grouped together. David Riesman, in the 1950s, proposed that there are three common types of modal personality in the world. Tradition-oriented, inner-directed and other directed personalities.

Tradition-oriented individuals are those who place a strong emphasis on doing things the same way that they have always been done. These people are less likely to take risks or seek new experiences. Inner-directed personalities tend to be guilt-oriented, and they are strongly controlled by their conscience.  Other-directed personalities tend to blur the difference between right and wrong and believe that scenarios are situation based. However, it is often our surroundings that influence us.

So, there are many ways to see how an individual’s personality and mental state can be shaped. Whether you believe that a person’s genetics define who they are, or that the environment that they are surrounded in is the deciding factor, it is difficult to not acknowledge that our surroundings do influence our mind.

the psychology of our surroundings

How to improve our mental state with our surroundings:

In order to increase your mood, surround yourself with positive colours. Decorate with optimistic and light colours. Avoid dark colours. If you wish to have dark colours, only paint one wall dark and the rest a lighter colour such as white.

The same is true for the people you surround yourself with – not just your house or home. Surround yourself with people who bring out the best of you, and support you. That really is the key to a healthy psychology.

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Rae Collins

Customer Engagement Manager at A proud English Bull Terrier parent and a Wanderlust sufferer.

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