In this study, the impact on the perception of the density of seating elements used in a cafe/restaurant has been examined. Spatial factors, like the density of seating, were assumed to influence the perceived crowding and perception of a space. A two-stage study was carried out in a cafe/restaurant where a dense amount of seating elements was later changed to less dense. Each situation was tested by using atmospheric attributes through the use of bipolar scales. Results from 465 participants showed that when the seating elements were less dense, respondents answered more positively. The effect of gender on performance appraisal task was also examined. Compared to female users, male users were more favorable to both moderate and high-density conditions. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.