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Phan and colleagues discuss health-related benefits of experiencing natural light; their work indicates how important it is to optimize the amount of glare-free natural light that flows into a space.  The researchers report that “Sunlight has important biological effects in human skin. Ultraviolet (UV) light striking the epidermis catalyzes the synthesis of Vitamin D and triggers melanin production. Although a causative element in skin cancers, sunlight is also associated with positive health outcomes including reduced incidences of autoimmune diseases and cancers.”

Thieu Phan, Barbara Jaruga, Sandeep Pingle, Bidhan Bandyopadhyay, and Gerard Ahern.  2016.  “Intrinsic Photosensitivity Enhances Motility of T Lymphocytes.”  Nature, Scientific Reports, vol. 6, article number 39479.

Designers developing new places, objects, and services should note that appearing busy is becoming more desirable.  Bellezza and colleagues learned that “a busy and overworked lifestyle, rather than a leisurely lifestyle, has become an aspirational status symbol. A series of studies shows that the positive inferences of status in response to busyness and lack of leisure are driven by the perceptions that a busy person possesses desired human capital characteristics (e.g., competence and ambition) and is scarce and in demand in the job market. This research uncovers an alternative kind of conspicuous consumption that operates by shifting the focus from the preciousness and scarcity of goods to the preciousness and scarcity of individuals.”

Silvia Bellezza, Neeru Paharia, and Anat Keinan.  “Conspicuous Consumption of Time:  When Busyness and Lack of Leisure Time Become a Status Symbol.”  Journal of Consumer Research, in press.

Torelli and his colleagues researched links between preferred brands and culture.  They learned that “feelings of cultural distinctiveness–feelings of being different and separated from the surrounding cultural environment–influence consumers’ preferences for brands that symbolize a related cultural group (i.e., a group that is geographically proximal and/or shares socio-historical and cultural roots with one's own cultural group). . . .  consumers experiencing cultural distinctiveness are likely to evaluate favorably and prefer brands associated with a related cultural group. . . . This pro-ingroup bias for culturally related brands is driven by a heightened desire to connect with ‘home,’ which prompts consumers to expand their in-group boundaries to include the related cultural group within a broadened definition of home.”  The effect is weakened, however, when rivalries between the geographically or historically/culturally related groups are significant, under those circumstances “experiencing cultural distinctiveness can backfire and result in less favorable evaluations of brands associated with a related cultural group.”

Carlos Torelli, Rohini Ahluwalia, Shirley Cheng, Nicholas Olson, and Jennifer Stoner.  “Redefining Home:  How Cultural Distinctiveness Affects the Malleability of In-Group Boundaries and Brand Preferences.”  Journal of Consumer Research, in press.

Sheng and colleagues completed a comprehensive evaluation of servicescapes, the physical locations where services are provided.  They found “two . . . multidimensional servicescape satisfaction constructs—labeled perceived nestscape and surroundscape satisfaction. . . . Both perceived servicescape satisfaction constructs positively affected loyalty intentions. The direction of effects . . . was found to emanate from satisfaction with the larger surroundscape to satisfaction with the smaller nestscape rather than the opposite direction. . . . the design dimension contributed the most to perceived nestscape satisfaction, while the social dimension had the greatest influence on surroundscape satisfaction.”

Xiaojing Sheng, Penny Simpson, and Judy Siguaw.  “Communities as Nested Servicescapes.”  Journal of Service Research, in press.

Lee and colleagues investigated the psychological implications of presenting images in full color or in black-and-white.  As they state, “participants’ visualization of the distant (vs. near) future is increasingly less colorful (i.e., more black and white). . . . marketing messages about distant (vs. near) future events lead to greater willingness to pay when presented alongside black-and-white (vs. color) images.”

Hyojin Lee, Kentaro Fujita, Xiaoyan Deng, and H. Unnava.  “The Role of Temporal Distance on the Color of Future-Directed Imagery:  A Construal-Level Perspective.”  Journal of Consumer Research, in press.

Syndicus, Wiese, and van Treeck studied how temperature influences decision making, finding that at warmer temperatures people seem to take more risks.  The team reports that when “two groups . . . completed the aforementioned tasks either in a warm (≥ 30°C) or neutral (≤ 25°C) ambient temperature condition. Participants made significantly riskier decisions in the warm ambient temperature condition. . . Especially elevated ambient temperatures should, therefore, be monitored in office environments to prevent impairments of decision making.”

Marc Syndicus, Bettina Wiese, and Christoph van Treeck.  “In the Heat and Noise of the Moment:  Effects on Risky Decision Making.”  Environment and Behavior, in press.

Blending cultural symbols in a single space or object can cause tension.  Yang and his team wondered “When and why do local communities display negative or exclusionary responses to mixing and blending of local and foreign cultural symbols in the same space or percept [whatever is being perceived]?” They found after working with study participants that were either America or Chinese that “the local community reacted most negatively to culture mixing when both objects were perceived to be icons or symbols of their culture of origin . . . [and that] concern about cultural contamination underlies exclusionary responses to culture mixing. We also identified two conditions that can deactivate such responses. First, even when the cultural symbols were presented simultaneously, keeping a distance between them assuages the concern over cultural contamination . . . and reduces the perceivers’ negativity to culture mixing. . . . Second, not attributing cultural symbolism to either cultural object also makes exclusionary responses less likely.”

Daniel Yang, Xia Chen, Jing Xu, Jesse Preston, and Chi-Yue Chiu.  “Cultural Symbolism and Spatial Separation.”  Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, in press.

Franco, Chew, and Swaine report that young children and adults have similar emotional responses to music.  They state that as part of their study “novel child-directed music was presented in three conditions: instrumental, vocal-only, and song (instrumental plus vocals) to 3- to 6-year-olds.”  Music presented was categorized by the researchers as  “’happy’ (major mode/fast tempo) and ‘sad’ (minor mode/slow tempo) tracks.” Research with adults has tied feeling happy to hearing music in a major key with a fast tempo and feeling sad to hearing slow music in minor keys.  Also,  “Nonsense syllables rather than words were used in the vocals in order to avoid the influence of lyrics on children’s decisions.”  The researchers found that when “children chose a face expressing the emotion matching each musical track. . . . even the younger children were able to correctly identify the intended emotion in music [i.e., had the same emotional response to a piece of music as adults would].”

Fabia Franco, Marcia Chew, and Joel Swaine.  2017.  “Preschoolers’ Attribution of Affect to Music:  A Comparison Between Vocal and Instrumental Performance.”  Psychology of Music, vol. 45, no. 1, pp. 131-149.

Voisin and Kim linked neighborhood conditions to the mental health and behaviors of African American youth.  They learned by analyzing data collected from “683 African American youth from low-income communities. . . . that participants who reported poorer neighborhood conditions [i.e. broken windows index] compared to those who lived in better living conditions were more likely to report higher rates of mental health problems, delinquency, substance use, and unsafe sexual behaviors.”

Dexter Voisin and Dong Kim.  “’Broken Windows’:  Relationship Between Neighborhood Conditions and Behavioral Health Among Low-Income African American Adolescents.”  Journal of Health Psychology, in press.

Calienes and colleagues studied the design of stores that appeal to Millennials.  They report that  “the store's physical design plays a crucial role in whether a shopper enters a store and engages with a brand. The latest generation of shoppers, the millennials, are a powerful cohort representing 75.4 million individuals in 2016 and accounting for $200 billion in annual consumer spending. Although this generation is well known for online shopping, research has shown that the majority (75%) of their retail dollars are still being spent in brick-and-mortar stores.”  Stores that were appealing to Millennials were organized, clean, projected a relatively lighthearted/humorous approach to making sales, used high quality displays/fixtures, were easy places to find desired merchandise without asking for help, and had a residential feel. White interiors were seen as clean, modern, and upscale by Millennials.

Elizabeth Calienes, Candy Carmel-Gilfilen and Margaret Portillo.  2016. “Inside the Mind of the Millennial Shopper:  Designing Retail Spaces for a New Generation.”  Journal of Interior Design, vol. 41, no. 4, pp. 47-67.


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