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The Psychology Behind Themed Environments: How Spaces Influence Emotions

Themed environments are extremely effective ways to engage your target audience. Whether your target audience is a new customer demographic, people you’re trying to educate, or anyone who will accept a message you’re trying to spread, a themed environment can help.


That’s mostly due to how themed environments play on visitors at a psychological level. 


Unfortunately, achieving that requires you to understand how themed environments influence emotions and how they’re designed to do that.


So, to help you out, we’re going to take a deep dive into the psychology behind themed environments and how you can use them to your advantage.


Let’s get started.


Why Psychology is Important for Themed Environments


Themed environments are all made with a particular goal in mind. That goal tends to fall into one of three categories.


  • Generating revenue by encouraging spending

  • Educating with interactive recreations

  • Honoring figures and events via engaging displays


For any of those goals to be achieved, the environment can’t just be thrown together at random. Each small detail must be considered and worked toward that goal.


Psychology behind themed environments - a themed environment example.

Imagine trying to create a themed environment based on a classic children’s novel. All the core concepts are represented, but the colors are all wrong, there aren’t any decorations adding life and energy to the environment, there’s no sound, and the lighting is similar to that of a hospital corridor. It wouldn’t work.


This is where understanding the psychology behind themed environments becomes important.


With the right lights, sounds, and decor, people will feel as if they were just transported back into their favorite children’s stories. They know that’s not the case, but psychologically, it elicits that emotion, and emotion can be a powerful tool.


What Factors Affect a Themed Environment’s Psychological Impact? 


The psychology behind a themed environment is a lot more complex than it can initially seem. With some types of themed environments, such as historical and educational spaces, it’s more important to be accurate to the theme than it is to worry about psychology.


However, psychology plays a much bigger part in any type of themed environment that is trying to elicit an emotion from visitors. 


Here are some of the core concepts that create that effect when they’re handled properly. 


1: Color Palette


Think of your themed environment as a painting. Not only do the colors need to match the decorations they’re on, but they need to be chosen carefully to elicit an emotion.


Color has a massive effect on the human psyche, and if you know how to use it, you can edge people toward your goal without a whole lot of effort. 


For a simple example, think about how a bright, vibrant, environment makes you happy and stuck in the moment, but a dark, monotone, environment makes you feel a bit uneasy. 


Color needs to be implemented correctly to work, but it does have a tremendous impact on the psychological effect of the themed environment.


2: Placement


You wouldn’t go to a theme park and expect the biggest roller coaster and all the gift shops to be right at the park’s opening. That doesn’t set the right tone.


The design of a themed environment is supposed to create an experience, and the different parts of it need to be thought of in an almost cinematic sense. 


You need a beginning, middle, and end if you want to work your way to your end goal and slowly convince your visitor to achieve that goal.


That’s true whether it’s a religious environment where you want to teach, a fun display that is just supposed to entertain, or a themed environment for a corporate event designed to convert visitors into revenue. 


The way you design that experience is what creates that. Starting with the smaller parts of the project and building up to a big climax.


3: Lighting


This is just as important as color in many situations. If you have a themed environment that is supposed to be happy and cheerful to elicit child-like wonder, but it’s poorly lit and doesn’t allow the color to pop, the atmosphere falls flat. 


This is a difficult thing for most inexperienced people to design. Lighting is a lot more complicated than making something light or dark.


You need lights to be the right level of intensity, but you also need them directed at the right parts of the environment to create the effect you’re looking for. 


We’ll talk more about this later on, but it’s best to get professional help. 


4: Quality of the Architecture and Decor


Even if everything else is perfect, if the architecture and decor of your themed environment aren’t as high quality as possible, the whole thing falls apart.


Psychology behind themed environments - themed environment design.

In general, everything should feel as if you’re in the location that you’re trying to depict whether it’s fictional or real. Having the build quality of the atmosphere feel “real” helps ease visitors into it and immerse them in the experience


This can be a difficult part of the project to accomplish because you need a studio that can make the right pieces to match your project and goal. However, it’s a key thing to get down, because it directly affects how visitors respond to the environment you created.


5: Atmosphere


This is more of an umbrella that’s made by everything we’ve talked about so far but with other, more minor details wrapped up in it. 


For a themed environment to have a profound psychological effect, it has to have the right atmosphere. It has to look, sound, and feel like whatever it is you’re trying to depict, or it pulls people out of the experience. 


The actual means of creating such an immersive environment differs depending on your goal and the subject you’re making a theme around, but everything does need to be one coherent theme that generates an appropriate atmosphere to pull visitors in.


Getting Help with Your Themed Environment


Now that you understand the importance of the psychology behind themed environments, it’s time to partner with experts who will help bring your vision to life.


Whether you’re looking for design help or production help for themed environment decor and pieces, Baker Studios is your go-to source. 


We’ve helped countless companies, municipalities, and organizations create the themed environments of their dreams with real psychological impacts, and we can help you, too. 


Contact Baker Studios today.

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