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Could Messy People Be Clearer Thinkers?

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Turns out the old adage about a messy desk being a sign of a messy mind isn’t necessarily true. On the contrary, new research suggests a disorganized environment may actually foster a clearer head.

In a study appearing in the June 2012 print issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, researchers conducted six experiments with more than 300 college students and found that those who worked at disorganized desks used simpler methods to sort items and decide what they’d purchase as consumers.

In particular, the study authors wrote, “They categorized products in a simpler manner, were willing to pay more for a T-shirt that depicts a simple-looking picture [than for a shirt with a complicated picture], and sought less variety in their choices.”

Even political affiliation came into play — messiness didn’t seem to affect liberals as much as conservatives, with self-described liberals saying that they were generally less concerned about being disorganized.

In conclusion, the authors note that contrary to popular belief, experiencing messiness could actually result in better work efficiency and more creative problem-solving.

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