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Lee and colleagues report that, at this time, it is unlikely that people will respond positively to working underground.  Their work is timely because “With growing population in urban areas, the problem of lacking space is becoming more prominent. . . . the development of underground space has increasingly gained attention as a viable solution.”  The researchers’ review of available literature determined that “the overall impression of underground environment is generally negative. This may be the outcome of features of underground environment that are naturally feared and avoided by people . . . such as entrapment and darkness, or from the lack of real physical experiences with underground spaces.”  More specifics, as an example: “Underground environment is a confined type of space, of which people have (or believe to have) less control over. If any incident, such as fire or explosion, takes place, it would be much more difficult to escape as there is no direct access to the outdoor environment. . . . Lack of perceived control from underground space can result in a variety of symptoms ranging from formation of negative perception to claustrophobia.”

Eun Lee, George Christopoulos, Ming Lu, Min Heo, and Chee-Kiong Soh.  “Social Aspects of Working In Underground Spaces.”  Tunneling and Underground Space Technology, in press.

Haque’s research determined that people are just as distracted when driving and talking on the phone hands free as they are when driving and holding their phone as they talk.  So, even though headsets, etc., have become more prevalent among people traveling/walking and talking on their phones, it is still important to create spaces where people on the phone can be safe even though they’re not paying much attention to the world around themselves (for example, ones where changes of level/stairs are eliminated whenever possible). Haque determined that  “’The reaction time of drivers participating in either a hand-held or hands-free conversation was more than 40 per cent longer than those not using a phone’. . . . Dr Haque said it was the cognitive load required to hold a conversation that was the distraction, not whether or not the driver was holding a phone. . . . ‘In other words the human brain compensates for receiving increased information from a mobile phone conversation by not sending some visual information to the working memory, leading to a tendency to ‘look at’ but not ‘see’ objects by distracted drivers. The distraction of a mobile phone conversation is not the same as an in-car conversation with a passenger because the non-driver can alter their dialogue based on the driving environment, for example stop talking when approaching a complex driving situation.’”

“Hands-Free Just as Distracting as Handheld Mobile Phone Use Behind the Wheel.”  2016.  Press release, Queensland University of Technology,

Research by Sunaga, Park, and Spence confirms that, all else being equal, things that are painted lighter colors are perceived to weigh less than items painted darker colors.  The team described their study “The present study examines how the lightness of packaging colors, and the location of products on a display shelf interact to affect consumers’ purchase decision‐making via perceived visual heaviness. As predicted, a display with light (dark) colored products positioned in the upper (lower) shelf positions increases shoppers’ perceptual fluency and facilitates their visual search, thus leading to the suggestion that ‘light’ (heavy) locations are most appropriate for light (dark) colored products. . . . .This research also demonstrates that when consumers consider the lightness (in terms of their weight) of the products, they are more likely to choose light (vs. dark) colored products located in the upper shelf positions. . . . consumers’ purchase decision‐making may be promoted by in‐store environments designed to be congruent with their sensory correspondences.”  This research also indicates, for example, that people will be more comfortable when darker colored objects and surfaces are closer to the floor/ground than lighter colored ones.

Tsutomu Sunaga, Jaewoo Park, and Charles Spence.  2016.  “Effects of Lightness-Location Congruency on Consumers’ Purchase Decision-Making.”  Psychology and Marketing, vol. 33, no. 1, pp. 934-950.

Li and Joh have identified a positive relationship between home values, the bikeability of neighborhoods, and the presence of viable public transit:  home values increase with bikeability and feasible transit options.  As Li and Joh report, “Planners and policy makers are increasingly promoting biking and public transit as viable means of transportation. The integration of bicycling and transit has been acknowledged as a strategy to increase the mode share of bicycling and the efficiency of public transit by solving the first- and last-mile problem. . . .This study [assessed] the property value impact of neighbourhood bikeability, transit accessibility, and their synergistic effect by analysing the single-family and condominium property sale transactions during 2010–2012 in Austin, Texas, USA. . . . to quantify neighbourhood bikeability and transit accessibility, we use Bike Score and Transit Score as publicly available indices. . . . The results from this research show that jointly enhancing bikeability and transit accessibility can generate positive synergistic effects on property values.”

Wei Li and Kenneth Joh.  “Exploring the Synergistic Economic Benefit of Enhancing Neighbourhood Bikeability and Public Transit Accessibility Based on Real Estate Sale Transactions.”  Urban Studies, in press.

Soderlund has identified good reasons for making sure retail employees are visible to shoppers.  He reports that  “Existing research suggests that humans are hardwired to be sensitive to the presence of other humans, and that the mere presence of someone is likely to affect human behavior. . . .  This study examined empirically if the mere presence of an employee in a physical environment has an impact on customer affect (in terms of pleasure) and customer satisfaction. Two . . .  experiments, in two different settings, showed that the absence of an employee produced lower levels of pleasure and lower levels of customer satisfaction than the mere presence of an employee. . . . In addition, a field study with mystery shoppers confirmed that the employee absent condition produced lower levels of satisfaction than conditions in which employees were visible.

Magnus Soderlund.  2016.  “Employee Mere Presence and Its Impact on Customer Satisfaction.”  Psychology and Marketing, vol. 33, no. 6, pp. 449-464.

Kalay-Shahin and colleagues investigated the psychological implications of seeing the color pink.  They determined that people, especially women, doing so were apt to be more optimistic.  More specifically, the team conducted “Three experiments . . . to investigate the association between pink and optimism. In Experiment 1A, . . . [people] were asked to classify words as optimistic or pessimistic as fast as possible. Half the words were presented in pink and half in black. Experiment 1B . . . was identical to 1A except for the color of the words—black and light blue instead of pink—to rule out the possible influence of brightness. Experiment 2 exposed 144 participants . . . to pink or yellow and then measured their optimism level. The findings for Experiments 1A and 1B indicated an association between pink and optimism regardless of brightness. Experiment 2 found that mere exposure to pink increased optimism levels for females.”

Lior Kalay-Shahin, Allon Cohen, Rachel Lemberg, Gil Harary, and Thalma Lobel.  2016.  “Seeing the World Through ‘Pink-Colored Glasses’:  The Link Between Optimism and Pink.”  Journal of Personality, vol. 84, no. 6, pp. 726-736.

Coulter has found that we have a different response to material reviewed on mobile devices and on desktop/laptop computers.  Why?  The location of our hands relative to the information presented.  Coulter’s findings can help designers and others understand puzzling reactions they’ve received to alternatives shared, for example.  Coulter determined that “when hands are proximal to . . . information (e.g., when using a mobile device to view the information [contained in an advertisement or on a product Web site]), there is more detail‐oriented processing that results in greater attribute recall and a greater amount of attribute‐related thoughts. When hands are distal to that information (e.g., when using a desktop to view the ad or product Web site), there is more holistic, conceptually oriented processing that results in greater thematic recall and more thoughts about the theme. . . . when hands are proximal consumers prefer ads communicating detailed product information; when hands are distal consumers prefer ads that focus on a theme. Hand proximity effects are driven by the innate tendency to manipulate or inspect an item.”

Keith Coulter.  2016.  “How Hand Proximity Impacts Consumer Responses to a Persuasive Communication.”  Psychology and Marketing, vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 135-149.

Research by Tamesue confirms that meaningful office noise degrades professional performance.  A press release detailing findings he presented at the 5th Joint Meeting Acoustical Society of America and Acoustical Society of Japan reports that “When carrying out intellectual activities involving memory or arithmetic tasks, it is a common experience for noise to cause an increased psychological impression of “annoyance,” leading to a decline in performance. This is more apparent for meaningful noise, such as conversation, than it is for other random, meaningless noise. . . . the impact of meaningless and meaningful noises on selective attention and cognitive performance in volunteers, as well as the degree of subjective annoyance of those noises, were investigated. . . . selective attention to cognitive tasks was influenced by the degree of meaningfulness of the noise. . . . the subjective experience of annoyance in response to noise increased due to the meaningfulness of the noise. . . . That means that when designing sound environments in spaces used for cognitive tasks, such as the workplace or schools, it is appropriate to consider not only the sound level, but also meaningfulness of the noise that is likely to be present. . . . Because it is difficult to soundproof an open office, a way to mask meaningful speech with some other sound would be of great benefit for achieving a comfortable sound environment.”

Takahiro Tamesue.  2016.  “Effects of Meaningful or Meaningless Noise on Psychological Impression for Annoyance and Selective Attention to Stimuli During Intellectual Task.” 5th Joint Meeting Acoustical Society of America and Acoustical Society of Japan, December 1, Honolulu, Hawaii, Press release at

Radermacher and her colleagues probed links between office design and recruitment of employees.  They investigated “corporate architecture as an effective signal to knowledge workers in the recruiting process. Two types of corporate architecture that are common in the knowledge economy are distinguished: traditional functionalist and new functionalist architecture. New functionalist architecture combines a flat, transparent facade with semi-open office layouts including areas for social interaction. Holistically these functional elements signal and symbolize a non-bureaucratic, non-hierarchical organization.”  Data collected indicate that “Students’ [young potential knowledge workers’] stated preferences imply that they would forgo on average 10% of their starting salary in order to work in the new functionalist rather than the traditional functionalist workplace. The magnitude of this effect supports the view that architecture matters for job choice.”

Katharina Radermacher, Martin Schneider, Anja Iseke, and Tobias Tebbe.  “Signalling to Young Knowledge Workers Through Architecture?  A Conjoint Analysis.”  German Journal of Human Resource Management, in press.


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