What your cubicle says about you.
YOU stop by a co-worker’s cubicle, needing to discuss a matter of great urgency. That quarterly report that’s due next week, or details of a project on which the company’s future hinges.
Yet you cannot concentrate on the discussion because you are distracted – your cohort’s cubicle is decorated with dozens and dozens of photos of Chihuahuas. Chihuahuas in tiny hats. Chihuahuas wearing tiny sequined vests. Chihuahuas with tiny smiles.
You cannot continue. You retreat to your cubicle, and plop yourself down amid your collection of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures.
Why do people surround themselves with this stuff?
We asked Barbara Tako, an organising whirlwind and author of Clutter Clearing Choices: Clear Clutter, Organize Your Home, & Reclaim Your Life. She knows junk. But she says cubicles are important as extensions of a person’s personality.
“I think people are more productive when their environment nurtures them, supports them, restores them, energises them,” she says, an explanation of why that guy across the aisle displays a dozen bowling trophies.
Author Mil Millington agrees: “With cubi-
Cubicles and the way people dress them up are extensions of a person’s personality, and there’s also a good measure of territoriality involved with those individual work areas. cles, you’re given the bleakest, most souleroding thing imaginable, which you then come to identify with and take on as an extension of yourself.
“It’s as if every Tuesday the company hit you across the back of the head with a garden tool, and, after six months, you start bringing in your own shovel.”
He pointed out that there’s a good measure of territoriality involved with cubes, and “because a primaeval button is being pushed, the most easy-going people will find themselves swelling with inner fury if a colleague drops by and rests half a buttock SCIENTISTS have confirmed what many pet owners have long suspected – some dogs have a more gloomy outlook on life than others.
The unusual insight into canine psychology emerged from a study by Bristol University researchers into how dogs behave when separated from their owners.
Dogs that were generally calm when left alone were also found to have a “dog bowl half full” attitude to life, while those that barked, relieved themselves and destroyed furniture appeared to be more pessimistic, the study concluded.
Michael Mendl, head of animal welfare and behaviour at the university, said the more anxiously a dog behaved on being parted from its owner, the more gloomy its outlook appeared to be.
The findings suggest that the trouble caused by some dogs when they are left alone may reflect deeper emotional problems that could be treated with behavioural therapy.
“Owners vary in how they perceive this kind of anxious behaviour in dogs. Some are very concerned, some relinquish the dog to a refuge, but others think the dog is happy or even being intentionally spiteful,” Mendl told the Guardian.
“At least some of these dogs may have emotional issues and we would encourage owners to talk to their vets about potential treatments,” he added.
Mendl’s team studied 24 animals at two dog homes in the UK. The dogs, half of which were male, were various breeds, including Staffordshire bull terriers, golden retrievers and collies. They ranged from nine months to nine years old.
Researchers began the study by going to a room with each dog in turn and playing for 20 minutes. They returned the next day, but on their desk or starts jiggling their mouse.
“Once, someone I worked with threw his half-eaten sandwich into my waste basket. I didn’t say anything at the time, but, when the opportunity arose some months later, I set fire to his car.” – Chicago Tribune/ McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
Some dogs have emotional issues and their owners should talk to the vet about therapy. this time left the dog alone for five minutes, during which the scientists recorded the animal’s behaviour with a video camera. The footage was used to give each dog an anxiety score.
A day or two later, the dogs were trained to walk over to a food bowl that was full when placed at one end of a room, and empty when placed at the other. When the dogs had learned the difference, the scientists tested the animals’ underlying mood by placing bowls in ambiguous positions – in the middle of the room, for example – and noting how quickly each dog went to the bowl.
The dogs that had been most anxious in the earlier test were slowest to approach food bowls placed in or near the middle of the room, suggesting they expected to find the bowl empty. The less anxious dogs ran to the food bowls, implying they were more optimisitc, according to a report in Current Biology.
“We know that people’s emotional states affect their judgements and that happy people are more likely to judge an ambiguous situation positively,” Mendl said. “What our study has shown is that this applies similarly to dogs – that a ‘glass half full’ dog is less likely to be anxious when left alone than one with a more ‘pessimistic’ nature.” – Guardian News & Media 2010