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Think that the ways that cultures discuss colors don’t change or that all cultures speak about the color spectrum in the same way?  Think again.  An article in the Journal of Vision, reports that an analysis of color terms used by modern Japanese speakers determined that they utilized  “the 11 basic color categories common to most modern industrialized cultures (red, green, blue, yellow, purple, pink, brown, orange, white, gray and black). . . . [as well as] mizu ("water")/light blue, hada ("skin tone")/peach, matcha ("ceremonial green tea")/yellow-green, oudo ("mud")/mustard, enji/maroon, yamabuki ("goldflower")/gold and cream. . . . Thirty years ago, a study of Japanese color categories . . . did not reveal mizu as a basic color category. . . . [and found] that kusa ("grass") was a very popular term for yellow-green . . . kusa has been largely replaced with matcha . . . . there is one tradition that has not changed over the past millennium: the mixed use of green and blue.”  A study of poems written prior to the 10th century indicates that historically “ao ("blue") was used to name both things that were clearly blue and also things that were clearly green; the same was true of midori ("green"). Even today, modern Japanese people refer to the color of the green traffic light, lush green leaves and green vegetables, as ao ("blue"). . . . in addition to distinct color terms for blue and green, modern Japanese has recently added a new intermediate color term "mizu" for lighter bluish and greenish samples.”

“The Evolution of Japanese Color Vocabulary Over the Past 30 Years.”  2017.  Press release, Tohoku University,

Sheldon and Donahue’s work confirms that the type of music listened to influences memories recalled.  The researchers found that “if you listen to happy or peaceful music, you recall positive memories, whereas if you listen to emotionally scary or sad music, you recall largely negative memories from your past.” The Sheldon/Donahue study is published in Memory and Cognition.   More details on the study conducted: “participants had 30 seconds to listen to 32 newly composed piano pieces not known to them. The pieces were grouped into four retrieval cues of music: happy (positive, high arousal), peaceful (positive, low arousal), scary (negative, high arousal) and sad (negative, low arousal). Participants had to recall events in which they were personally involved that were specific in place and time, and that lasted less than a day.”

“Happy Notes, Happy Memories.”  2017.  Press release, Springer Press,

Seeing images of nature in the labor/delivery room improves the experience of giving birth.  Aburas and her team report that “Incorporating design elements and strategies that calm and reduce negative emotions may create positive experiences for women in labor.”  When images of nature were present during the labor and delivery period, scores were higher on “the Quality of Care From the Patient’s Perspective (QPP) subscale. In addition, there was an increase in the QPP scores associated with the increase in Nature TV watching time, QPP mean of watching time (less than 1 hour) group . . . and QPP mean of watching time (more than 3 hours). . . . The mean score for the heart rate was lower in the experimental condition . . . than in the control one [no nature images] . . . . These findings support the study hypothesis which states that the nature images would influence the labor experience positively.”

Rehab Aburas, Debajyoti Pati, Robert Casanova, and Nicole Adams.  2016.  “The Influence of Nature Stimulus in Enhancing the Birth Experiences.”  HERD:  Health Environments Research and Design Journal, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 2016, pp. 81-100.

DuBose and her research team explored how spatial design can influence healing.  They share that “there is a growing recognition that our healthcare system could do more by promoting overall wellness, and this requires expanding the focus to healing. . . . this review of the literature presents the existing evidence to identify how healthcare spaces can foster healing. The environmental variables found to directly affect or facilitate one or more dimension of healing were organized into six groups of variables—homelike environment, access to views and nature, light, noise control, barrier-free environment, and room layout. . . . Healing spaces. . . . support healing intention and foster healing relationships.”

Jennifer DuBose, Lorissa MacAllister, Khatereh Hadi, and Bonnie Sakallaris.  “Exploring the Concept of Healing Spaces.”  HERD:  Health Environments Research and Design Journal, in press.

Blaschke and her colleagues have learned that adding artificial plants to spaces can have desirable outcomes.  Their study was based in an oncology clinic waiting room in Australia and collected data from cancer patients, staff members, and people caring for the cancer patients.  The investigators found that  “Eighty-one percent . . . of respondents noticed the [artificial] green features when first entering the waiting room and 67% . . . noticed they were artificial. Eighty-one percent . . . indicated ‘like/like a lot’ when reporting their first reaction to the green features. Forty-eight percent . . . were positively affected and 23% . . . were very positively affected. Eighty-one percent . . . agreed/strongly agreed that ‘The greenery brightens the waiting room,’ 62% . . . agreed/strongly agreed that they ‘prefer living plants,’ and 76% . . . agreed/strongly agreed that ‘‘lifelike’ [artificial] plants are better than no plants.’. . . . Patients, staff, and carers mostly accepted artificial plants as an alternative design solution to real plants.” The artificial plants in place included “plant arrangements, hanging installations, two movable green walls, and one rock garden on wheels placed throughout the outpatients’ clinic waiting room.”

Sarah Blaschke, Clare O’Callaghan, and Penelope Schofield.  “Artificial But Better Than Nothing:  The Greening of an Oncology Clinic Waiting Room.”  HERD:  Health Environments Research and Design Journal, in press.

Research by Choi and her team indicates that a lot of walls in video conference centers and other locations should be painted warm colors.  As they detail, their data, collected in the US and South Korea, indicates that “an anonymous person against a warm color background (vs. neutral and cold color background) is perceived to be one with warmer personality.”  In addition, “nurses’ perception of warmth from a hospital’s ambient color affects their favorable judgment of the hospital and intention to take on an extra role.”

Jungsil Choi, Young Chang, Kiljae Lee, and Jae Chang.  2016.  “Effect of Perceived Warmth on Positive Judgment.”  Journal of Consumer Marketing, vol. 33, no. 4, pp. 235-244.

Lamb and Kwok looked at the effects of workplace stressors on performance.  They report on a study that collected data from office workers over 8 months: “Participants completed a total of 2261 online surveys measuring perceived thermal comfort, lighting comfort and noise annoyance, measures of work performance, and individual state factors underlying performance and wellbeing. Characterising inadequate aspects of IEQ [Indoor Environmental Quality] as environmental stressors, these stress factors can significantly reduce self-reported work performance and objectively measured cognitive performance by between 2.4% and 5.8% in most situations, and by up to 14.8% in rare cases. . . . Exposure to environmental stress appears to erode individuals' resilience, or ability to cope with additional task demands. These results indicate that environmental stress reduces not only the cognitive capacity for work, but the rate of work (i.e. by reducing motivation). Increasing the number of individual stress factors is associated with a near linear reduction in work performance indicating that environmental stress factors are additive. . . .  Environmental stressors reduce occupant wellbeing (mood, headaches, and feeling ‘off’) causing indirect reductions in work performance.”

S. Lamb and K. Kwok.  2016.  “A Longitudinal Investigation of Work Environment Stressors on the Performance and Wellbeing of Office Workers.”  Applied Ergonomics, vol. 52, pp. 104-111.

Grenness’ work indicates the importance of aligning national culture and workplace design.  He reports on research done with Telenor, a Norwegian firm.  In Norway, an open-plan, flexible workplace, that reflected the country’s egalitarian social structure worked well.  This was not the case in areas in Asia.  Regarding the design of its offices outside Norway, Grenness reports that “Based on the interviews, it was fairly obvious that Telenor had not given the issue [of alignment with national culture] much thought.  Its overall strategy was to copy the design of its head office in Norway . . . and begin its operations in various Asian countries without much further consideration.”

Tor Grenness.  2015.  “Culture Matters:  Space and Leadership in a Cross-Cultural Perspective.”  In Arja Ropo, Perttu Salovaara, Erika Sauer, and Donatella De Paoli (eds.).  Leadership in Spaces and Places. Edward Elgar Publishing:  Northampton, MA, pp. 199-214. 

Blakey investigated links between workspace design and innovation/creativity.  Knowledge workers living in California were asked how they felt workplace design influenced their innovation/creativity.  Blakey found via surveys and interviews that “Within the individual workspace technology surfaced as a primary driver of innovation. When asked about team workspace respondents [indicated] concern over noise and interruptions. . . .  Stimulators [of innovation/creativity] included placement of staff within close proximity to key team members, design that encourages trust, and inspiring decor that awakens creativity. Lastly, barriers to innovation in the workspace included status quo mentality, decreasing square footage from individual workspace, and concerns with open space design.”

Jennifer Blakey.  2016.  “The Impact of Workspace on Innovation.”  Dissertation, Brandman University (US), Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences, vol. 76(9-A(E)), no pagination specified.

LoMonaco-Benzing and Ha-Brookshire, in a study published in Sustainability, investigated links between Millennials’ decisions to leave firms and gaps they identified between their employers’ stated values and actions.  The researchers found that “one reason young workers choose to leave a firm is because they find a disconnect between their beliefs and the culture they observe in the workplace. ‘We were interested in workers’ values regarding sustainability and corporate sustainability practices and whether a gap existed,’ said Rachel LoMonaco-Benzing, a doctoral student in the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences. ‘Not only did we find a gap, but we also found that workers were much more likely to leave a job if they felt their values were not reflected in the workplace.’ . . . ‘Fewer people of this generation are just looking for a paycheck,’ Ha-Brookshire said. ‘They have been raised with a sense of pro-social, pro-environment values, and they are looking to be engaged. If they find that a company doesn’t honor these values and contributions, many either will try to change the culture or find employment elsewhere.’”

“’Values Gap’ in Workplace Can Lead Millennials to Look Elsewhere.”  2017.  Press release, University of Missouri,


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