The Cathedral Effect or how to promote creative thinking

Ever since I’ve lived in an old early 20th century house when I was a child I’ve come to appreciate the comfort of high ceilings. Maybe it’s because of my height (I’m 1,94 m.) but besides the extra daylight that enters I like the sense of freedom I feel in those rooms. Considering the fact that many people favour high ceilings to low ceilings it is astonishing how many houses have been build with depressingly low ceilings (in the Netherlands especially around the 80’s).

But there is more to high ceilings then just the extra sense of liberation. The so called ‘Cathedral Effect’ shows that there is a relationship between perceived hight of a ceiling and cognition. High ceilings are said to enhance creativity, whereas environments with low ceilings promote detail-oriented work.

So remember this the next time you have another ‘out-of-the-box thinking’ meeting: maybe it’s better to meet in a train station hall or at the nearby church. And if you happen to be a big thinker or like to get rid of your customers as soon as possible be sure to make you habitat look like a hobbit-house.

For me, I can still use some more creative thinking so for now I’ll stay far away from those 80’s housing!

 

Jacques Tati looking at the high ceiling of an office lobby, New York, October 1958 by Yale Joel

Jacques Tati looking at the high ceiling of an office lobby, New York, October 1958 by Yale Joel