Do you do your best work at a clean desk? Or, do you prefer a little mess?

What about those of you who work from home, or frequently have lunch in your office? Does a clean or messy work environment influence what you choose for lunch?

According to a University of Minnesota study published in Psychological Science, clean desks do tend to influence us to make healthier food choices than we would if we were surrounded by unorganized piles of papers and files, with pens and paperclips and the sort scattered about. A clean environment also makes some of us more generous and less likely to commit crimes — even litter!

“Working at a clean and prim desk may promote healthy eating, generosity, and conventionality.”

Personally, I think I fall under the “Need a Clean Desk” category (even if it’s not always that clean…!) I tend to make better lunch and dinner choices when I’ve spent the day at a clean, organized desk. I’m also less stressed and more productive — all of which is related, I’m sure.

But, I wonder why?

We are all exposed to various kinds of settings, such as in our office space, our homes, our cars, even on the Internet. Whether you have control over the tidiness of the environment or not, you are exposed to it and our research shows it can affect you. — Kathleen Vohs, University of Minnesota psychological scientist.

Hmm. So, being exposed to cleaner work environments can lead us to choose cleaner foods?

Sounds good to me!

How about YOU, readers? Does your environment such as your home, work space, car — whatever — influence your eating habits? Would you be more likely to choose a salad over a Big Mac if your desk were cleaner?



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    Last reviewed: 18 Jan 2014

APA Reference
Sparks, A. (2014). Junky Desks Might Cause Junky Diets, One Study Suggests. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 23, 2014, from



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