The Science Behind Making Me Feel Bad at Malls

I hate shopping in malls and giant department stores. One reason is that I always feel like they’ve dialed back on the oxygen.1 Another reason is that large shops are usually disorienting — no directional cues (e.g. windows to see the sun), no maps, little signage, less discernible logic.

How interesting to discover that there’s a science to making me feel that way: the Gruen transfer. And that Ikea are past masters at milking this disorientation. (We used to shop at Ikea in Neasden when we lived in London.)

Now if only I could figure out what Dadeland is doing to the air to make you want to buy something and get the heck out of there.


  1. I should perhaps note that I have no other symptoms of claustrophobia, and indeed enjoyed caving when younger. []
This entry was posted in Shopping. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Science Behind Making Me Feel Bad at Malls

  1. Paul Gowder says:

    I confess, I don’t understand the motivation for this. My reaction to deliberately-disorienting stores like Ikea is to refuse to shop there, or, if forced to shop there, to corral employees and order them about until I get what I want, and exactly what I want.

    Surely that doesn’t maximize their profits. Unless others react radically differently…?

  2. anon says:

    Thank you. The wonders of the Internet.

    As to the cost/benefit of losing Paul Gowder’s business, I think Ikea clearly knows what they are doing and I suspect even Mr. Gowder, albeit reluctantly, benefits from Ikea’s cheap tables (either he grits his teeth and goes when he has a particular need or a social proxy, i.e wife, picks one up for him when necessary).

  3. Andy Rooney, is that you?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.