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Verified by Psychology Today

3 Important Reasons Why There Are Mirrors in Elevators

1. Relief from claustrophobia.

Key points

  • Traveling at high speeds in a confined space with strangers is not natural for human beings.
  • In addition to being a design element, mirrors in elevators can serve important psychological functions.
  • Mirrors in elevators can help people maintain their mental equilibrium and feel safe.
 finwal89/Shutterstock
Source: finwal89/Shutterstock

The elevator is a modern miracle. Its invention has allowed us to build and inhabit buildings taller than our ancestors could have imagined. Yet, though riding in an elevator is an everyday experience, it can still be a bit anxiety-provoking.

It’s a tiny space—a metal box on a pulley that allows us to travel at high speed, often with a random group of strangers. It does seem a bit unnatural to the human condition. Yet, we do it every day.

It’s no accident that mirrors are found in most elevators. You might not realize it, but mirrors are a standard design element that serves multiple functions to help you psychologically manage your elevator ride. Here are three main functions.

1. Relief From Claustrophobia

Many people feel claustrophobic in a lift. It’s a confined space with limited oxygen, and it can be challenging to see what’s going on outside as the elevator doors close and it starts moving. Look to the mirror if you feel your heart racing in a confined space like an elevator. A mirror in a lift can help alleviate your anxiety by giving the sensation of more space, making it feel less crowded or narrow, and lessening the feeling of confinement.

2. Added Safety

The mirror allows you to see what others are doing in the lift. For example, you can see your fellow passengers’ facial expressions and what their hands are doing. As a result, mirrors can discourage theft or unwanted touching. The extra vantage points of a mirror can also increase maneuverability—for example, if you are in a wheelchair or transporting a bulky object. So, mirrors can prevent accidents.

3. A Great Distraction

It’s easy to become bored in an elevator, and mirrors are an excellent way to entertain yourself. People are less likely to think that their time spent in a lift has been squandered when a reflective surface is on hand. You can fix your hair or check out the other occupants. Without a mirror, everyone would have to stare at the floor. Being distracted by the mirror gives an impression of less time being spent inside.

In my recent book, Mirror Meditation, there are many suggestions for using the mirror to manage anxiety, increase self-acceptance, gain confidence, and simply enjoy looking at your image instead of criticizing it. Becoming friends with your reflection has multiple benefits beyond elevator rides. You can learn to use the mirror to your advantage!

Copyright 2022 Tara Well, Ph.D.

Facebook image: AS photostudio/Shutterstock

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