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Skelton and her colleagues thoroughly investigated how babies (4 to 6 month olds) experience colors.  They determined that “infants have color categories for red, yellow, green, blue, and purple. We show that infants’ categorical distinctions align strikingly with those that are commonly made in the world’s different color lexicons [systems/dictionaries]. . . . These findings suggest that color categorization is partly organized and constrained by the biological mechanisms of color vision and not arbitrarily constructed by language.”  This research by Skelton and team confirms that babies have color vision and suggests that restricting their spaces/objects to a black and white palette, as is sometimes done with very young children, may be a practice that should be abandoned.

Alice Skelton, Gemma Catchpole, Joshua Abbott, Jenny Bosten and Anna Franklin.  2017.  “Biological Origins of Color Categorization.”  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 114, no. 21, pp. 5545-5550.

McKimmie and his colleagues probed how courtroom design influences opinions of defendants.  They report that their “study examined the effect of courtroom design, and more specifically where the defendant was positioned (in an open dock, in an open dock guarded by a correctional officer, in a dock surrounded by glass, or at the bar table) on mock jurors’ perceptions of the defendant. The participants . . .  described the defendant in more negative terms when the defendant was portrayed in either an open dock, glass dock, or in the presence of a correctional officer compared to when the defendant was portrayed as sitting at the bar table with the defence counsel.”

Blake McKimmie, Jillian Hays, and David Tait. 2016.  “Just Spaces:  Does Courtroom Design Affect How the Defendant is Perceived?”  Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, vol. 23, no. 6, pp. 885-892.

Kotabe, Kardan, and Berman studied how the appeal of viewed nature is influenced by the disorder present in it.  They share that “Natural environments have powerful aesthetic appeal linked to their capacity for psychological restoration. In contrast, disorderly environments are aesthetically aversive, and have various detrimental psychological effects. But in our research, we have repeatedly found that natural environments are perceptually disorderly.”  An explanation is provided for this paradox, based on the research conducted by Kotabe and his team: “nature scenes can be disorderly yet aesthetically preferred because the effect of naturalness on aesthetic preference is stronger than the effect of disorder on aesthetic preference. . . . . [in experiments conducted] the most ordered natural scenes were most aesthetically preferred and the most disordered built scenes were least aesthetically preferred, with orderly built scenes and disorderly natural scenes falling between in a nearly linear pattern. . . . Zen gardens may be very beautiful, but if one were to stumble upon an untouched natural landscape that is highly ordered like a Zen garden, it may be exalted into an aesthetic class of its own. . . . This paper suggests that order should be considered in the design of both greenspace environments and virtual environments.”

Hiroki Kotabe, Omid Kardan, and Marc Berman.  “The Nature-Disorder Paradox:  A Perceptual Study on How Nature is Disorderly Yet Aesthetically Preferred.”  Journal of Experimental Psychology:  General, in press.

Harris Poll, on behalf of Sherwin-Williams, conducted the National Painting Week Color Psychology Study, collecting information from 2,201people over age 18 via an online survey.  Among the interesting findings: “62 percent of Americans select[ed] blue as one of the colors they like most. The strong preference for blue is consistent across genders, regions and age. Many Americans also said they associate blue with calmness (45 percent). . . .The color black is the second-most popular color (32 percent), followed by red (31 percent). . . . The majority of Americans (58 percent) say that more vibrant colors should be used throughout the home rather than just neutral tones. . . . Generations see green differently. Millennials are more likely than older generations to most associate the color with energy (33 percent vs. 24 percent of Gen Xers2 and boomers3). Baby boomers are more likely than millennials to associate green with calmness (26 percent vs. 20 percent). Forty-two percent of Americans associate yellow with happiness; men are more than twice as likely as women (35 percent to 17 percent) to associate yellow with ‘weakness.’”

“Americans Say They’re Ready for More Vibrant Colors, but Many Still Play It Safe with Neutrals.”  2017.  Press release, Sherwin-Williams,

Often workplaces are redesigned during periods of organizational change and research released by the American Psychological Association indicates that organizational change can be very stressful.  Workplaces can be designed to defuse at least some of that stress and the knowledge that it is present should inform the interpretation of research data, for example, information collected in the course of a post-occupancy evaluation.  The APA press release reports that “American adults who have been affected by change at work are more likely to report chronic work stress, less likely to trust their employer and more likely to say they plan to leave the organization within the next year compared with those who haven’t been affected by organizational change. . . .  Workers who reported being affected by organizational change currently or within the past year reported lower levels of job satisfaction compared with employees who reported no recent, current or anticipated changes (71 percent vs. 81 percent). . . . Working Americans also appeared skeptical when it comes to the outcomes of organizational changes. Only 4 in 10 employees (43 percent) had confidence that changes would have the desired effects and almost 3 in 10 doubted that changes would work as intended and achieve their goals (28 percent each). . . . Workers reported having more trust in their companies when the organization recognizes employees for their contributions, provides opportunities for involvement and communicates effectively.  

“Change at Work Linked to Employee Stress, Distrust and Intent to Quit, New Survey Finds.”  2017.  Press release, American Psychological Association,

Streicher and Estes gathered evidence indicating that haptic, or touch-related, experiences have a significant effect on consumer behavior.  They report that  “Consumers often touch products before reaching purchase decisions, and indeed touch improves evaluations of the given product. . . . We show that grasping a . . . product increases . . . the likelihood of choosing [a haptically similar; “haptic” means ”touch”] product. . . . We also show that visually crowded rather than sparse product displays increase the effect of touch on choosing other haptically similar products. . .  Our results suggest that by manipulating or mimicking the haptic features (e.g., shape and size) of objects that consumers grasp while shopping, marketers can develop packaging that . . . increase[es] choice of those products.”

Mathias Streicher and Zachary Estes.  2016.  “Multisensory Interaction in Product Choice:  Grasping a Product Affects Choice of Other Seen Products.”  Journal of Consumer Psychology, vol. 26, no. 4, pp. 558-565.

Work by Giebelhausen and colleagues indicates that there’s value in building support for charitable activities into retail spaces—for example: convenient spaces to place cash collection boxes near cash registers.  The Giebelhausen lead team reports that “Checkout charity is a phenomenon whereby frontline employees (or self-service technologies) solicit charitable donations from customers during the payment process. . . . The present research examines checkout charity in the context of fast-food restaurants and finds that, when customers donate, they experience a ‘warm glow’ that [was linked to] store repatronage. . . . Managers often infer, quite correctly, that many consumers do not like being asked to donate. Paradoxically, our results suggest this ostensibly negative experience can increase service repatronage.”

Michael Giebelhausen, Benjamin Lawrence, HaeEun Chun, and Liwu Hsu.  “The Warm Glow of Restaurant Checkout Charity.”  Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, in press.

New research confirms that people from different national cultures vary in how they perceive their physical worlds.  The specific findings of the study discussed here are not as important as the determination that cultural variations exist. A research team lead by Yoshiyuki Ueda of Kyoto University reports that “an ability to perceive differences between similar images depends on the cultural background of the viewer. Scientists have long recognized that the mental processes behind thinking and reasoning differ between people raised in Western and Eastern cultures. Those in the West tend to use 'analytical' processing -- analyzing objects independently of context -- while those in the East see situations and objects as a whole, which is known as 'holistic' processing. . . . In looking for the one odd line out of a group, North Americans took more time when the line was shorter, rather than if it was longer. No such differences were seen in Japanese volunteers, who in contrast had a significantly harder time identifying a straight line among tilted ones.”  Jun Saiki of Kyoto University adds that "’Our next step is to find the cause of this discrepancy. One such reason may be the orthographical [writing] systems the subjects see regularly. In East Asian writing, many characters are distinguished by subtle differences in stroke length, while in Western alphabets, slight angular alterations in letters result in remarkable changes in the reading of words.’" The paper detailing these findings is published in Cognitive Science.

“You Don’t See What I see?”  2017.  Press release, Kyoto University,

Speer and Delgado report that thinking about happy memories enhances wellbeing when people are stressed.  Their study “explored whether recalling autobiographical memories that have a positive content—that is, remembering the good times—can dampen the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis stress response.”  Study participants were stressed psychologically by the researchers and the scientists then determined that “recalling positive, but not neutral, memories resulted in a dampened cortisol rise and reduced negative affect [mood] . . . . These findings highlight the restorative and protective function of self-generated positive emotions via memory recall in the face of stress.”  The design of workplaces and other sorts of spaces can make it easier or more difficult for people to display objects, for example, that can bring positive memories to mind, such as photos taken during vacations.

Megan Speer and Mauricio Delgado.  “Reminiscing About Positive Memories Buffers Acute Stress Responses.”  Nature, in press.

Cartoons can be better ways to present information than photographs when certain outcomes are desired, according to research done by Rodriguez and Lin.  The scientists conducted a study that “compare[d] two modes of visually presenting information about wind energy – one using photographs and the other using cartoons – on audience’s knowledge, attitudes and behavioural intentions. . . . Results indicate no significant difference between the two groups in terms of knowledge and attitudes, but those shown the comics version showed stronger intentions to support wind energy than those shown as photos. Those exposed to the comics-aided brochure found it more informative, interesting and cognitively engaging. Those who saw the photo version found the brochure more credible.”

Lulu Rodriguez and Xiao Lin.  2016.  “The Impact of Comics on Knowledge, Attitude and Behavioural Intentions Related to Wind Energy.”  Journal of Visual Literacy, vo. 35, no. 4, pp. 237-252.


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