A tendency to favor filling blank spaces with objects and
elements over leaving spaces blank or empty.
Recent research into how horror vacui is perceived suggests a general inverse relationship between horror vacui and value perception—that is, as horror vacui increases, perceived value decreases. For example, in a survey of more than 100 clothing stores that display merchandise in shop windows, the degree to which the shop windows were filled with mannequins, clothes, price tags, and signage was inversely related to the average price of the clothing and brand prestige of the store. Bulk sales shops and chain stores tended to fill window displays to the maximum degree possible, using every inch of real estate to display multiple mannequins, stacks of clothes, and advertising promotions, whereas high-end boutiques often used a single mannequin, no hanging or stacked clothes, no signage, and no price tags—if passersby need to know the price, they presumably could not afford it. This result is certainly consistent with common experience, but somewhat surprising as lavish decoration is historically considered an indication of affluence and luxury.
It may be that the inverse relationship is actually between the affluence of a society and the perceived value associated with horror vacui—that is, for those accustomed to having more, less is more, and for those accustomed to having less, more is more. Others have speculated that the relationship is more a function of education than affluence. This area of research is immature and much follow-up is required to tease out the causal factors, but the preliminary findings are compelling.