Renowned social psychologist, author
keynotes college research symposium


Sam Gosling, a nationally renowned researcher and author who focuses on issues related to personality and social psychology, will be the keynote speaker at the Texas A&M College of Architecture Research Symposium: Built, Natural Virtual. The 11th annual symposium will be held Oct. 19 at the Langford Architecture Center on the Texas A&M campus.

Gosling, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, will present "A Room With a Cue: Expressions of Personality in Everyday Environments” at 3 p.m. in the Preston Geren Auditorium, located in building B of the Langford Architecture Center.

“Dr. Gosling represents that rare breed of scientist able to both conduct and communicate fundamental research on topics of immediate relevance to the mundane concerns of design professionals,” said Lou Tassinary, executive associate dean of the college. “His insights into the perpetual ‘dance’ between people and their environs will likely inspire the re-thinking of traditional design criteria.”

The lecture is part of the daylong symposium, which features a series of college faculty presentations previously delivered at scholarly venues around the world. This year's symposium includes invited or refereed presentations and papers from the 2008-09 academic year.

Gosling researches the everyday manifestations of personality, especially how individuals select and craft the environments in which they dwell, to suit their personalities.

“How do our living rooms, bedrooms, offices, music collections and Facebook profiles reflect what we are like, and more fundamentally, who we are?” he asks. “And how can our productivity and welfare be improved by understanding how we are related to our personal environments?”

His research has been covered in a New York Times Magazine cover story, the Boston Globe, Good Morning America, USA Today, the London Times, the Economist, BBC, Scientific American, New Scientist, Psychology Today, Parenting, NPR and Science.

Gosling's recently published book, “Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You,” is a look at how our private spaces—from boardroom to bedroom—reveal our personalities, whether we know it or not.

“In ‘Snoop’ I present the result of a decade’s worth of research unraveling the links between people and places and figuring out what they mean,” he said. “Some clues, such as the Obama poster on the office wall or the highbrow books left casually lying on the coffee table, are deliberate, but not always disingenuous, signals to others about how we would like to be seen.”

Other clues, he said, like the music on one’s iPod or disarray in the office-desk drawer, are inadvertent reflections of our styles of feeling and thinking and of our history of behavior.

“The research yields lessons for the impressions we form of others in everyday life, and the impressions they are forming of us, and for designing spaces that accommodate our multifaceted psychological needs.”

His premise, wrote Jay Dixit in the Washington Post, is that our personalities seep out in everything we do and that expert snoopers can draw remarkably accurate pictures of us by examining the traces we leave behind.

“Gosling's conclusions are supported by rigorous academic research, but his engaging book is aimed at a popular audience; he presents it as a field guide to the "special brand of voyeurism" he calls ‘snoopology,’” wrote Dixit. “Few readers may actually rummage through their neighbors' garbage in search of what Gosling dryly calls ‘behavioral residue,’ but Snoop’s conceit makes for an entertaining tour of how people project their inner selves outward into the world.”

Gosling’s research interests also include personality or temperament in nonhuman animals; the subject of his doctoral dissertation at the University of California at Berkeley focused on the personality in spotted hyenas.

He also uses empirical indices to track historical trends in psychology and develops methods to collect psychological data from the Internet.

See also: College of Architecture's 11th Annual Faculty Research Symposium


- Posted: Oct. 5, 2009 -

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