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Researchers have found that people’s sense of balance is impaired when they talk on cell phones – another reason to make sure circulation spaces, plazas, and the like, are free of trip hazards, etc.  A study-related press release reports that “cell phone texting and talking can have a negative effect on one’s balance during everyday activities. . . . cell phone texting during exercise significantly impacts postural stability – by 45 percent — when compared to no cell phone use. The investigation also revealed that talking on a cell phone while exercising reduces postural stability by 19 percent. Listening to music on a cell phone, on the other hand, has no notable impact on postural stability during exercise, the study showed.”

“Your Cell Phone Could Curb the Intensity of Your Workout.”  2017.  Press release, Hiram College,

Bubic and colleagues found that knowing the name of a painting influences responses to it. Details on their project: “The present study . . . explore[d] the perception of 12 selected abstract and figural Wassily Kandinsky paintings among two groups of participants, one familiarized with the titles prior to viewing the artworks and another unfamiliar with the paintings’ titles. . . . participants who knew the titles prior to viewing the artworks liked both figural and abstract paintings more compared with those unfamiliar with the title. This finding is in accordance with previous studies indicating that providing contextual information may influence viewers’ liking of presented artworks.”  The researchers also report that participants in their study generally preferred “figural over abstract paintings. . . . they reported liking and understanding these paintings better as well as being more emotionally moved by them.”

Andreja Bubic, Ana Susac, and Marijan Palmovic.  “Observing Individuals Viewing Art:  The Effects of Titles on Viewers’ Eye-Movement Profiles.”  Empirical Studies of the Arts, in press.

Verplanken and colleagues’ research indicates that we’re more likely to successfully change habits when attempts at the desired modifications are paired with other changes in our lives, such as moving to a new home.  A press release for the upcoming Society of Personality and Social Psychology conference, where Verplanken will discuss his work, reports that this outcome is called the “discontinuity effect.”

“Thinking of Changing Your Behavior in 2017?  Try Moving First.”  2017.  Press release, Society for Personality and Social Psychology,

Myerson and Privett share insights regarding workplace design that they garnered while studying extreme workplaces, such as academic libraries, theatres, air traffic control centers, and newsrooms.  Particular attention is devoted to psychological comfort in these environments.  This text may help readers resolve workplace design challenges.

Jeremy Myerson and Imogen Privett. 2015.   Life of Work:  What Office Design Can Learn from the World Around Us.  Black Dog Publishing: London, UK.

Sokolova and Krishna learned that when people are being asked to make a selection, how that task is described makes a difference.  Their findings, which can be applied by anyone asking others to make choices, are straightforward: “People can make decisions by choosing or by rejecting alternatives. This research shows that changing a task from choice to rejection makes people more likely to rely on deliberative processing, what we label the task-type effect. . . . We show that changing a task from choice to rejection makes people express more consistent preferences between safe and risky options . . . . switching a task from choice to rejection increases the quality of consideration sets in the context of hotel reviews . . . and leads to more rational decisions in the context of cell phone plan selection.”

Tatiana Sokolova and Aradhna Krishna.  2016.  “Take It Or Leave It:  How Choosing Versus Rejecting Alternatives Affects Information Processing.”  Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 43, no. 4, pp. 614-635.

Parrott effectively reviews, in the chapter available free at the web address noted below, the repercussions of people being envious in workplaces.  As he details, “there [are] a multitude of . . . ways that a person can be perceived as enjoying advantages. Offices can be bigger or brighter and can have better windows or nicer furnishings. . . . envy can be even more intense when directed horizontally within organizational levels than it is when directed from lower to higher levels. . . . . In the context of organizations, the danger of envy is that it may hurt group performance more than it helps. A recent study of envy in business settings in a variety of Norwegian organizations provided evidence that envy was negatively related to group performance (Thompson, Glasø, & Martinsen, 2015). Envy was negatively correlated with job satisfaction, group cohesion, group performance, and with providing assistance and cooperation to others in the organization. Envy was found to damage relationships within work-groups and to direct energy away from group activities.”

W. Parrott.  2016.  “Being Envied in Organizations.”  In Richard Smith, Ugo Merlone, and Michelle Duffy (eds.), Envy at Work and in Organizations, Oxford University Press, available at

Romero and Craig have identified a relationship between shapes seen, thoughts, and money spent.  They report that “Human-like shapes are abundantly present in the marketplace, such as in product shapes (e.g., Coca-Cola bottles) and décor (e.g., mall decorations).  Are these shapes innocuous or do they impact subsequent purchase decisions? . . . We find that when consumers see shapes that resemble a thin human form, they access positive stereotypical knowledge related to a thin weight-group.  Furthermore, across various relevant consumer financial decisions, high-BMI [body mass index] consumers make indulgent spending choices after seeing a thin, human-like shape.”  To clarify, “a shape resembling thin human body types activates concepts [thoughts] related to positive financial outcomes, such as responsibility and hard work.”

Marisabel Romero and Adam Craig.  2016.  “Costly Curves:  How Human-Like Shapes Can Increase Spending.”  Journal of Consumer Research, in press.

Researchers at Louisiana State University have studied links between parents’ concerns about neighborhoods and the amount of time their children spend playing outdoors.  The scientists report, in a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, that “parents who are concerned about their neighborhoods restrict their children’s outdoor play. . . . ‘Parents who do not trust their neighbors or feel they have no control over neighborhood problems were more likely to restrict their child’s outdoor play,’ says lead author Maura Kepper, PhD. . . . In this small study, though, the self-reported responses did not seem to indicate that the parents’ concerns altered their children’s physical activity levels. . . . ‘Furthermore, we found that the neighborhood physical environment, such as the presence of graffiti and blighted property in the neighborhood, worsened the problem,’ says Kepper.”

“LSUHealthNO Study 1st to Show Parents’ Concerns About Neighborhood Restrict Kids’ Outdoor Play.”  2017, Press release, Louisiana State University,'%20Concerns%20Restrict%20Outdoor%20Play.html.

Smart Growth America investigated incidents in which pedestrians were hit by cars and their entire study is available free at the web address noted in the reference, below.  They report that “Multiple studies have found that reducing the number of travel lanes and installing median islands have substantially reduced all crashes, including those that often result in serious injury or death for pedestrians. . . . A Complete Streets approach helps transporta­tion planners and engineers . . . consider how to keep people walking separate from people driving vehicles; keep traffic speeds low; ensure side­walks and curb ramps are accessible to people with disabilities; and clarify where each road user should be expected to travel. . . . planners, landscape architects, and engineers can select from a large set of nationally used appropriate design elements, including but not limited to: wide sidewalks; curb extensions; refuge islands; pedestrian countdown signals; leading pedestrian interval signal timing; midblock crossings (especially at transit stops); pedestrian hybrid beacons; nar­row travel lanes; planting street trees; restricted right turns on red lights; compact intersections; back-in angled parking and smaller curb radii.”

Smart Growth America.  2017.  Dangerous By Design, 2016,

Population density affects how lives are lived.  Sng and his colleagues report that “The world population has doubled over the last half century. . . . Across nations and across the U.S. states . . . we find that dense populations exhibit . . . greater future-orientation, greater investment in education, more long-term mating orientation, later marriage age, lower fertility, and greater parental investment. . . . experimentally manipulating perceptions of high density led individuals to become more future-oriented. . . . experimentally manipulating perceptions of high density seemed to lead to life-stage-specific slower strategies, with college students preferring to invest in fewer rather than more relationship partners, and an older . . . sample preferring to invest in fewer rather than more children.”

Oliver Sng, Steven Neuberg, Michael Varnum, and Douglas Kenrick.  “The Crowded Life Is a Slow Life:  population Density and Life History Strategy.”  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, in press.


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