Exploring space: Effects of environmental stimuli on self-disclosure

Vanessa Simone Okken

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

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The research in this dissertation examines the effects of environmental stimuli on self-disclosure during interactions in service environments. Earlier explanations of why behavior can be influenced by environmental factors focused on comfort and affect. In this dissertation experienced spaciousness is introduced as an often ‘overlooked’ mediator in such relationships. Since the effect of environmental factors on self-disclosing behavior via perceived spaciousness is unexplored territory, the studies presented in this dissertation are a first step towards filling that void. Knowledge about how perceived spaciousness can be influenced by environmental factors can help in construct and decorate environments that inspires people to feel free and uninhibited rather than confined and constricted. In turn this can positively influence both affective and behavioral responses, and creating an overall more positive experience. A classification is presented, subdividing environmental factors into four categories; architecture, interior design, atmospherics and, with respect to online communication, website design. Throughout the dissertation, a variety of studies is presented that examine effects of factors belonging to all four categories in both simulated and actual environments. Furthermore, patient and conversation characteristics are taken into consideration. The current studies demonstrate and underline the importance of environmental factors on our feelings and our behavior. The studies reported demonstrate that self-disclosure is affected by the physical and online environment. In addition, it is shown that this relationship is mediated by experienced spaciousness; a more spacious setup increases spaciousness perceptions, which in turn positively impacts self-disclosing behavior. Overall, these findings contribute to our knowledge in the fields of environmental psychology and communication research and increases understanding of the underlying processes involved.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Twente
  • Pruijn, Adriaan Theodorus Hendrikus, Supervisor
  • van Rompay, Thomas J.L., Co-Supervisor
Award date14 Nov 2013
Place of PublicationEnschede
Print ISBNs978-90-365-0738-7
Publication statusPublished - 14 Nov 2013


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