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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.

The US Department of Veterans Affairs reports that it has linked architectural/interior design consistent with the recommendations embedded in its Mental Health Environment of Care Checklist to fewer suicides by inpatients in its mental health units.   The Mental Health Environment of Care Checklist is available free via the website noted below.  Some details “A multidisciplinary group of VA employees developed the program to review inpatient mental health units and eliminate hazards that could increase the chances of patient suicide or self-harm. The group focused on architectural changes, with analyses suggesting that structural hazards such as anchor points like a hook on the wall or a ceiling vent were linked to most attempted or completed suicides. . . . The checklist asks questions such as whether beds, walls, and ceiling vents are free of anchor points for hanging. Other potential hazards include non-shatterproof glass and non-tamper-resistant electrical outlets.”  Another example of material in the checklist: “Shelving that has no sharp edges and is bolted to the walls avoids the potential suicide and self-harm risks associated with standard shelves or cabinets.”  The VA study of the effectiveness of its checklist is published in Psychiatric Services. 

“Study:  Physical Environment Checklist Leads to Sharp Decline in Inpatient Suicides at VA Facilities.  2016.  Press release, US Department of Veterans Affairs,

Kim and team found via a study analyzing over 11,000 single-family home sales in Austin, Texas that house prices are affected by nearby trees.  They report that “Many empirical studies assessing the economic benefits of urban green space have continually documented that green space tends to increase both value and sale price of nearby residential properties. . . .  this study examined the association between landscape spatial patterns of urban green spaces and single-family home sale transactions. . . . we found that that larger tree and urban forest areas surrounding single-family homes positively contributed to property values, while more fragmented, isolated and irregularly shaped landscape spatial patterns resulted in the inverse.”

Jun-Hyun Kim, Wei Li, Galen Newman, Sung-Ho Kil, and Sun Park.  “The Influence of Urban Landscape Spatial Patterns on Single-Family Housing Prices.”  Environment and Planning B:  Planning and Design, in press.

Harold, Lorenzoni, Shipley, and Coventry investigated how to best display scientifically derived information to non-scientists.  Their findings are relevant to designers who are presenting results of research projects they’ve conducted, for example.  The Harold team suggests that people developing science-related graphics “Direct viewers’ visual attention to visual features of the graphic that support inferences about the data; Include only information for the intended purpose of the graphic; Break down the graphic into visual ‘chunks’, each of which should contain enough information for the intended task or message; Identify the most important relationships in the data that are to be communicated; Consider different ways of structuring the data that enable the viewer to quickly identify these relationships; Use text to help direct viewers’ understanding of the graphic, for example by providing key knowledge needed to interpret the graphic.” The study by Harold and colleagues is published in Nature Climate Change.

“New Guidelines Aim to Improve Understanding of Scientific Data.”  2016.  Press release, University of East Anglia,

Researchers at NYU’s Langone Medical Center have published research in Nature Neuroscience detailing how information collected via other senses influences our interpretations of what we hear.  The team learned that “The brain’s interpretation of sound is influenced by cues from other senses. . . .’What the brain ‘hears’ depends on what is ‘seen’ in addition to specific sounds, as the brain calculates how to respond,’ says study senior investigator and neuroscientist Robert Froemke, PhD, an assistant professor at NYU Langone and its Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine. . . .  ‘Our study shows how the same sound can mean different things inside the brain depending on the situation,’ says Froemke. ‘We know, for instance, that people learn to respond without alarm to the honk of a car horn if heard from the safety of their homes, but are startled to hear the same honk while crossing a busy street.’”  This finding may help design researchers better understand apparently conflicting information that they gather during project-specific studies, related to, for example, challenges faced when trying to concentrate in a particular workplace.

“Making Sense of the Senses:  ‘Context’ Matters When the Brain Interprets Sounds.”  2016.  Press release, NYU Langone Medical Center,


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