Seats, Options, Selections

Use science to design in psychological comfort.

Posted May 10, 2018

Selecting seats for your living room or family room can be a daunting task. There are lots and lots of options to choose from, and not much useful on-site guidance, whether you’re in a furniture store or at a flea market or in your grandmother’s basement.

Science can guide you to the best seats for your home, however.   

People come in a mix of personalities, some more extraverted and others more introverted. Regardless of the personality profiles of the main users of a space, people of all personality “flavors” will find themselves in your home from time to time. Seating options available have to make extraverts and introverts feel good. Researchers have found that extraverts generally prefer to sit on sofas with others while introverts favor freestanding seats when one is available—so a mix of comfortable sofas and single-person chairs is best in your living room.   

One of the advantages of sofas is that people can sit closer to or farther from others, as they choose. This flexibility is desirable because our desired personal spaces from each other vary based on what sort of conversation we’re having, our relationship with a person, and our culture. It’s nice to provide at least some of the people in single seats the option of being closer or father from others as they choose, so having some single seats that are a size, shape, and weight that allows them to be moved by a single, average person (not a superhero or weightlifter) is a good idea.

Sofas permit people to stretch out and so do recliners, chaise lounges, and similar sorts of seats. All that lounging has implications. When we’re reclined we think more creatively, are more even-tempered, and feel more powerful. Depending on the usual (and desired) social dynamic in your home, you may decide that one or more options to recline are best—or that a “no-feet-on-the-sofa” policy would work best for you.

When you’re furnishing your home, select seating options that keep the heads of everyone who’ll be participating in a conversation at about the same height above the floor. Research shows that looking up or down at people we’re talking to has psychological consequences that turn exchanges into parent (higher head)-child (lower head) type discussions.

Science can help you overcome the decision-paralysis that often sets in when you’re furnishing your home—and it can help all present sit in comfort (psychologically, at least).

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