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The Psychology of Space: How Design Influences Human Behavior

Structures Insider - The Psychology of Space: How Design Influences Human Behavior

The psychology of space is a discipline with exciting potential. It aims to study human behaviors and relationships within the context of their built environment.

In short: how do people behave and react in response to specific designs?

As more research is conducted in the field, there have been some impactful findings on how factors such as color, lighting, layout, and texture can meaningfully influence quality of life. This information can help designers create spaces that better fulfill human needs and play host for more harmonious relationships.

Spatial Layouts

Structures Insider - The Psychology of Space: How Design Influences Human Behavior

The spatial layout of an interior has a direct impact on people’s moods. It also influences how they are able to access and interact with a space. For example, clutter is proven to exacerbate stress and anxiety. Closely confined spaces can cause feelings of claustrophobia in some occupants.

Conversely, open floor plans can have a number of positive effects. They can increase mood via increased natural light flow. They can enhance productivity through greater collaboration and social interaction. Open interiors enhance functionality. They facilitate customization of space. Furniture can be easily reconfigured with fewer walls in the way. Kitchen islands can allow 360-access to countertop space, increasing utilization. Features such as acoustic art panels and ceiling clouds can limit distracting noise through open spaces and keep conversations local. 

Intentional Lighting

Structures Insider - The Psychology of Space: How Design Influences Human Behavior

Lighting is one of the most important design factors for influencing mood. Natural light promotes openness and vitality. People note greater productivity and elevated happiness levels when exposed to sunlight.

Artificial light can have the opposite effect. Too much artificial light has a host of adverse psychological and physiological effects. According to Monash University, it can disrupt sleep patterns and increase the risk of sickness. Overexposure to artificial light can also cause headaches and anxiety. 

That is not to say artificial light does not have a place in design. It does. Canned lighting, candles, and other types of dimly lit features provide calming relaxation. They can be ideal for creating a spa-like bathroom or romantic dining room ambiance. Finding the ideal balance between natural and artificial lighting is the key to optimizing wellness. 




Society is more socially conscious than ever. People want to be part of the solution not part of the problem. This is especially relevant for the hot-button issue of climate change. People are willing to go the extra mile to limit their carbon footprint and help ensure the future of the planet.

Job seekers are turning down interviews with companies with outdated climate initiatives. They want to see that the businesses they work for have a net-zero infrastructure in place. If not, they should be rapidly working toward one. Homeowners are paying extra for features such as EnergyStar appliances, door and window casing profiles, solar panels, sustainable insulation, and other materials that limit the property’s energy consumption. By choosing the most durable, long-lasting materials and those that boast energy efficiency features, climate-related stress can be effectively managed. 

Biophilic Features

Structures Insider - The Psychology of Space: How Design Influences Human Behavior

People spend more time indoors today than they did in previous centuries. Nonetheless, humans inherently crave nature. Nature is proven to promote wellness, alleviate stress, enhance concentration, and provide an improved quality of life. 

Biophilic design is aimed at creating nature-inspired spaces. Natural features such as wood, stone, sunlight, and greenery are used to infuse spaces with warmth, calmness, and tranquility. Living walls, exposed wooden roof beams, potted plants, and large windows are some ways to accomplish this. Some rustic design exterior features such as stone facade cladding and wood-look composites can have a similar effect. Transitional spaces that connect the interior and exterior are also en vogue. Rooftop decks and lanais with sliding pocket doors are some trending ways to enhance a property’s connectivity. 


Technology has made the world more connected than ever. It has truly changed the way people live and work. Features such as home offices, gyms, and recording studios used to be reserved for the ultra-wealthy. Now, they are common in new custom builds as people leverage technology to live remote lifestyles.

Younger generations are keeping up with the rapid evolution of technology. Homes and workplaces that lag behind can cause serious feelings of dissonance. People want to feel like they are part of the future. Smart home features, intelligent lighting, and IoT are just of the few latest advancements being included in modern builds. Not only can the latest technological features have a psychological impact on homeowners they can also improve efficiency and open up more free time.

Impact Behavior Positively Through Modern Design Concepts

The psychology of space aims to determine how people react to specific design choices. By using this information to guide design strategies, architects can improve the human experience and quality of life through their structures.

For more of the latest insights on all architectural matters, explore the resources at Structures Insider for the leading voices in the industry.


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