Working in underground offices

University dissertation from Department of Psychology

Abstract: The present doctoral dissertation discusses Japanese office employees' psychological reactions to their underground work environment. Studies I and III were methodological in nature and aimed at developing and validating instruments to be used in the empirical studies. The first empirical analysis (Study II) examined office employees' perception of the importance of windows, the lighting conditions and the office interior by means of a questionnaire survey. The second empirical analysis (Study IV) was a qualitative analysis of underground and above ground office employees' conceptualisation of their office environment by means of a multiple sorting task. The results confirmed that windows were strongly desired in work places, especially by employees working underground and not having windows. The underground employees also evaluated their lighting conditions and the general office interior more negatively than did the above ground workers, although the physical design of the offices was very similar. Furthermore, the comparison of the conceptual systems of underground and above ground workers showed that the underground subjects distinguished window related concepts more clearly than the above ground workers. Finally, the Japanese subjects in these studies showed strong reactions against the underground work place similarly to the western subjects of previous studies, indicating that the negative psychological reactions towards underground places, and the desire for windows in the work place, are not substantially influenced by climatic and cultural factors, but seem to be wide spread human reactions.

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