This article demonstrates that variations in ceiling height can prime concepts that, in turn, affect how consumers process information. We theorized that when reasonably salient, a high versus low ceiling can prime the concepts of freedom versus confinement, respectively. These concepts, in turn, can prompt consumers’ use of predominately relational versus item-specific processing. Three studies found support for this theorizing. On a variety of measures, ceiling height–induced relational or item-specific processing was indicated by people’s reliance on integrated and abstract versus discrete and concrete ideation. Hence, this research sheds light on when and how ceiling height can affect consumers’ responses.
What was funny to me is that they didn’t even come up with this idea themselves. It’s been floating around for a while:
There appears to be widespread belief that ceiling height can affect the quality of indoor consumption experiences. Fischl and Ga¨rling (2004) found that ceiling height ranked among the top three architectural details that influenced consumers’ psychological well-being. Much anecdotal evidence also supports this view. A home development company that uses design ideas inspired by the guru of transcendental meditation maintains that homes with higher ceilings induce clearer and improved thinking, more energy, and better health among residents (Bivins 1997). Airplane manufacturers seem to concur that higher ceilings can enhance consumers’ consumption experience, even if the increased height is only illusory. Such manufacturers use numerous techniques to engender the illusion of increased vertical space or volume in plane interiors, including repositioning overhead baggage bins, installing gently arched illuminated ceiling panels, and affixing wavy mirrors on the bulkheads beneath overhead storage bins (Lunsford and Michaels 2002).
Source: “The Influence of Ceiling Height: The Effect of Priming on the Type of Processing That People Use” from JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH, Inc., Vol. 34, August 2007
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