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Stress results when an individual has less control over an environment or a situation than is desired. One way of regaining control and reducing stress is to regulate privacy by screening the self from spatial, visual or acoustical invasion. This study examined the use of architectural features to regulate privacy under hypothetical situations that are likely to generate low, moderate and high stress, comparing the seating choices of males and females in a variety of dining scenarios in a restaurant. In more stressful circumstances such as those associated with a job interview, participants chose restaurant seating bounded by more architectural features than they did in more relaxed dining situations such as dining with friends. Males and females appeared to be different in their responses to moderate and high stress situations. These results have implications for designers of secondary settings where stressful interactions are likely to take place.


Required Publisher Statement
© Elsevier. Final version published as: Robson, S. K. A. (2008). Scenes from a restaurant: Privacy regulation in stressful situations. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 28(4), 373-378. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.