Buyers twisted by design

Book Review: 'The Architecture of Happiness'

Recently, I showed a home to a novice house hunter. From what I’d seen of her personality and tastes, I knew this place wouldn’t be "it" for her, but she wanted to see it anyway. We went in, and she took it all in: little tiny windows; dark paneled walls; lots of rooms in a home that already had a pretty low square footage; what I like to call insecurity bars on the windows (that’s when there are bars on the window in an actually pretty nice/safe neighborhood) — and my normally chatty and upbeat client looked at me wide-eyed and summed her emotional reaction to the house up in three words: "I would cry."

In "The Architecture of Happiness," writer Alain de Botton explores exactly this phenomenon …