Thomas’s sumptuous designs led people to spend as they’d never spent before, and, in the years since the Bellagio was completed, research has supported the psychological assumptions that went into its creation. Karen Finlay is a professor at the University of Guelph, in Ontario, who focusses on the behavior of gamblers. Her latest experiments have immersed subjects in the interiors of various Vegas hotels by means of a Panoscope, which projects three hundred and sixty degrees of high-deﬁnition video footage. There are slot machines and card tables in every direction. Using the Panoscope method, Finlay compared the mental eﬀects of classic casinos, with low ceilings and a mazelike layout, to those of casinos designed by Thomas. Subjects surrounded by footage of Thomas’s interiors exhibited far higher levels of what Finlay terms mental “restoration”—that is, they were much more likely to say that the space felt like a “refuge” and reduced their stress level. They also manifested a much stronger desire to gamble. In every Panoscopic matchup, gamblers in Thomas’s rooms were more likely to spend money than those in Friedmanesque designs. Although subjects weren’t forced to focus on the slot machines, the pleasant atmosphere encouraged them to give the machines a try.
One point is just that a huge number of casino owners (who are presumably highly incentivized to make money) jumped to a conclusion about what would work best, and they were wrong.
A possible angle is that people don't trust pleasure enough-- the assumption was that people couldn't be led to gamble, they had to be forced.
On the other hand, if the story in the article is correct, getting a better solution wasn't a process of thought and testing, it was a result of the right weird person trusting himself, and convincing a casino owner to trust him.
Does the article imply that it's extremely important to make your work space as pleasant as possible in all respects? Would that make it too hard to get out for socializing?
Mild aggravation: The test was set in simulated casinos, not real ones.
Gender nitpick: The article describes the female-friendly casino as having every surface covered with something expensive. It seems to me that the male-friendly decorating scheme (British club-- it didn't work because men weren't showing up at all) just has everything either covered with or made of something expensive. Not a huge difference.
I'm left wondering whether the male-friendly scheme was actually the wrong male-friendly scheme and something else would work. Is there such a thing as human-friendly decorating which is gender non-specific?