Impact of Space and Color in the Physical Environments on Preschool Children's Cooperative Behavior

Design elements within child care facilities are thought to have important effects on children's behavior. Empirical studies that examine features of the physical environment, such as color, wall surfaces, and vertical space, and how they affect development, are sparse. Using Gibson's Ecological Theory of Visual Perception, this study investigated the impact that differentiated space - ceiling heights and wall color - had on children's cooperative behavior. Simply differentiating the ceiling heights of a room or providing contrasts in wall color appeared to be related to higher levels of cooperative behavior among preschool children. Findings from this study can benefit early childhood directors and designers concerned with creating children's environments that encourage cooperative behavior. This study appeared in the journal Environment and Behavior, Vol. 31 No. 3, May 1999, 413-428. If you don't subscribe, you can get free access to the present and past issues thru 31 October at