snoopbookcoverI asked you to look at a photograph of someone’s living room and tell me something about them – how did you do?

A few days ago I showed you this picture, and asked you to guess whether the occupant was either:

male or female?, more into the arts or science?, a smoker or non-smoker?



86% of you said male

55% of you said more oriented towards science

62% of you said smoker

And the answers are….male, science and smoker! Making the majority of you correct for each guess. Looks like your snooping abilities are pretty impressive. Of course, not a controlled experiment, but interesting that most people came up with the right answers. So, we are looking for someone male, science-oriented, and a smoker. Two other clues – they are famous and played a key role in psychology. Any ideas?


  1. Freud was a very heavy smoker and he used cocaine as well. I recall that he died with only a mere stump of his bottom jaw left (they had to remove most of his lower jaw due to cancer), with which he still tried to smoke his cigar. What a fun guy! Anyway, he was my first guess as well.

    Just to be alternative though, I’ll go for Wilhelm Wundt instead. Though I wouldn’t mind for a second if it turns out to be William James.

  2. Freud also collected antiquities, pretty much to the point of obsession. There are a few ornaments there, but I’d expect to see more.

    I also doubt he’d have so many chairs in his room, especially arranged as they are.

    Still, it’s only one side of the room. On the other might be the couch, the desk, the ashtrays, the spittoon where he coughed up his lungs and bits of rancid flesh from his cancer of the mouth.

    Judging by the lampshade, we’re looking at least the 1940s, which would fit Freud in his London years….

    But what about Jung? He smoked a pipe. I am not seeing many bookshelves, however.

    I guess this is rather straying from the “without really thinking about it” rule, right?

  3. Nah, Bruce: there shall be no rest for the wicked!

    Anyway, it’s 100% certainly Freud, as a quick visit to the Freud Museum’s homepage will tell anyone (not giving a link so that people can go and look for it themselves if they want).

    Margaret was absolutely right btw: the things on the table at the back are, as a matter of fact, a large collection of antiquities, mostly small statues.

    …I still think Wundt would have been a better choice though.

  4. Fraud was hardly oriented toward science at all.
    Oriented toward unsubstantiated ‘cargo cult’ science, perhaps…

  5. Freud? The arrangement of the objects in the room is very “controlled” and austere, and looks like a collection of little sculpture on the table or desk.

  6. If it is Freud’s room, and the picture is available on the internet, doesn’t that skew the result of the experiment? Isn’t it possible that some people who answered just happened (perhaps subconsciously) to know what Freud’s room looked like?

    And I can’t help but feel that just asking the question “smoker or non-smoker” biases us towards a positive answer – if it was, say, Marie Curie’s room, would it have occurred to you to ask us about whether or not she smoked?

  7. The colours of the carpet and furniture made me think “smoker” but the cleanliness made me think “non smoker”…no ashtrays, white walls, not nicotine stained.

    Does the room’s owner still occupy it? Are they still alive? It seems to me to be something preserved rather than something lived in.

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