Freedom – Give it or I’ll Make it

In the October 2010 edition of Harvard Business Review, they report on a study done by Jonathan Levav of Columbia University and Rui Zhu of the University of British Columbia (p 32).

In their study they found that where people are deliberately cramped for space, they will choose to adopt “risk asserting” behaviour.  This is evidenced by the fact that where less space is provided, people will make more varied choices than where they have more space.  This is known as reactance.

The findings where replicated in grocery stores by the researchers who found that where the shoppers were more crowded in their “shopping room”/personal space, the purchase variety by those shoppers increased in more than 70% of product categories.

What are the implications for this with regard to not only retailers, but for those employing people and giving them discretion?  Does this mean that when people are more crowded in their environment, they will react by imposing more of their own will?

For retailers, it might mean that where you crowd shoppers in a smaller space, you will be able to move more of your slower lines as you put them in a more confined area – the people will, according to this study, have a broader variety of purchase choices than when they aren’t pressed for room.

So may be there is an inverse relationship between space and exercise of free will???

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