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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.

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.


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