Older Adults Who Have a Match between Personality and Living Space Report Better Well-Being

Young Hispanic family sitting on sofa reading a book together in their living roomA new study from the University of Texas at Austin has found that how a person decorates their living space can accurately pinpoint personality traits and the mood of the people who live there. The study found this is especially true as a person gets older.

For the study, researchers analyzed the living spaces of 286 people over the age of 65. They looked at photographs of rooms where the subjects spent most of their time and found certain personality traits were reflected in core elements of room decor.


Researchers believe applying these findings could help lead to happier lives, especially in older adults with cognitive impairment or frailty who have been transferred from their homes to long-term care facilities.

This first-of-its-kind study looked at characteristics of the room such as cleanliness, newness, and brightness. Participant’s personalities were analyzed, and photos were taken of the rooms where each person spent most of the time.

The study published in the journal Gerontologist found that extraversion was expressed in rooms with newer items and cheerful decor. Researchers believe this may come from a desire to make the room appealing to visiting friends and family.

Participants who were considered conscientious lived in places where orderliness and organization were crucial components. New items and comfort seemed to be most important.

Functional Limitations

Researchers were surprised to find the adults who had functional limitations had more clutter but had fewer symptoms of depression. They believe that clutter may represent an effort to exert control over the environment. They may also wish to keep items close at hand because of their mobility issues.


Researchers believe this study shows that older adults with physical limitations may benefit from a little help around the house. However, cleaning and maintenance should be done in collaboration. What looks like clutter to one person may be an arrangement that makes older adults feel more comfortable in their own homes.

This study helps to show that long-term care facilities should allow for greater freedom in room decor to help improve the mood of residents who lived there.

“People who have a match between personality and living space report better well-being, and they feel better about their life and have a better mood,” said Karen Fingerman, professor of human development and family sciences at The University of Texas at Austin and director of the Texas Aging and Longevity Center. “Home is where we can express ourselves.”

Author Bio

Sarah began her interest in nutritional healing at an early age. After going through health problems and becoming frustrated with the conventional ways doctors wanted to treat her illness (which were not working), she took it upon herself to find alternative treatments. This led her to revolutionize her own diet to help her get healthier and tackle her health problems. She began treating her illness by living a more balanced lifestyle through healthy food choices, exercise and other alternative medicine such as meditation. This total positive lifestyle change led her to earn a diploma in Nutritional Therapy from Health Sciences Academy in London, England. Today, Sarah enjoys helping others by teaching healthy lifestyle changes through her personal consultations and with her regular contributions to the Doctors Health Press. Also, passionate about following her dreams in life, Sarah moved to France and lived in Paris for over 5 years where she earned a certification in beadwork and embroidery from Lesage (an atelier owned by Chanel). She then went on to be a familiar face sitting front row and reporting from Paris Fashion Week. Sarah continues to practice some of the cultural ways of life she learned while in Europe. They enjoy their food, and take the time to relax and enjoy many of life’s little moments. These are life lessons she is glad to have brought back home with her.