Growing up I was the tidy sibling. While my sister was outside playing with her friends, I was inside organising my dolls into neat rows and sorting through my sock drawer. Not that I don’t love my sister, but me being me, I always liked to assume that my tidy room was a sign of maturity and even a small hint that maybe, I was a teensy bit smarter than my sister (sorry, not sorry). To my horror however, a new study has confirmed that messy people are actually smarter than tidy people. Ouch.
The study by University of Minnesota examined the intellectual abilities of both tidy and messy people, finding that people who live in mess are more creative and intelligent. To come to this slightly controversial conclusion, researchers gathered two groups of people – those who had messy rooms and those who liked to keep their bedrooms tidy. Each group was asked to devise new ways of using ping-pong balls, requiring teams to make the most of their intellectual potential.
According to researchers, the group who had messy rooms were more able to devise creative and innovative ideas, whereas the group with tidy rooms struggled slightly. What’s more, when asked to choose between a new product brand and an existing one, the majority of the messy room group chose the new product, demonstrating that they were more likely to be comfortable trying new things and thinking creatively.
According to the study authors, the findings demonstrate that those who prefer messy rooms are more likely to think outside the box, which often translates into success and intelligence. “Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights,” explained scientist Kathleen Vohs. “Orderly environments, in contrast, encourage convention and playing it safe.”
This being said, I kind of feel like we need both types of people in the world to make things work. After all, what’s the point in having a whole lot of ‘big ideas’ people if there isn’t anybody to make the ideas happen and ensure things are done properly. Makes you think, huh?