Recently, a few environmental psychologists have started to focus on how the flora and fauna in our digestive tracks influence our psychological lives. They are prompted by research such as that done by Tillisch and her team, which found that “Changes in gut microbiota have been reported to alter signaling mechanisms, emotional behavior, and visceral nociceptive reflexes in rodents. However, alteration of the intestinal microbiota with antibiotics or probiotics has not been shown to produce these changes in humans.
Do you find yourself worrying that data collected during programming or other project phases may be influenced by weather conditions? Research by Lucas and Lawless indicates that your concerns may be unfounded. They learned that “weather does not reliably affect judgments of life satisfaction . . . .
Beautiful things are often preferred, and research recently completed at Vanderbilt indicates that there may sometimes be good, biological reasons for that. Valet and his team have learned that “the uglier a flower or weed, the more allergy-inducing its pollen tends to be . . . ‘The relationship between allergy-causing pollens and their flowers is something like a beauty pageant,’ Valet said.
Designers don’t often focus on what it’s like to experience a space when it’s dark; but the lights are not always on and the sun is not always out. Edensor has investigated “the effects and affects of darkness, a condition that is progressively becoming less familiar for those of us in the over-illuminated West.” He stresses that in darker spaces there is a “mobilisation of alternative modes of visual perception as well as the emergence of non-visual apprehensions, . . .
Leigh Thompson, a distinguished professor at the Kellogg School of Management, recently discussed her new book, Creative Conspiracy: The New Rules of Breakthrough Collaboration, in a blog posting for the Harvard Business Review. Her extensive analyses of available data support the use of cave-and-commons office design. As she describes, workers perform best when they have the autonomy to select their workspace: “I am a big fan of cave-and-commons designs in offices — private spaces (caves) where one can work without being interrupt
Evidence continues to mount that positive distractions in healthcare environments are desirable (for additional related information see http://researchdesignconnections.com/pub/visual-art-healthcare-jury-stil...). Researchers at The Ohio State University have determined that “for some hospitalized ICU patients on mechanical ventilators, using headphones to listen to their favorite types of music could lower anxiety and reduce their need for sedative medications . . .
Green building techniques are gaining acceptance. Research indicates that “The growth in the sustainable-building movement overall has been swift and also appears to be near a tipping point. In a 2012 Turner Construction survey of 718 U.S. real estate owners, developers and tenants, for example, 90% reported being committed to environmentally sustainable practices, and more than 50% were “extremely” or “very” committed to green principles.
Designers often write surveys to collect information. Jones and Loe’s work indicates that a larger number of response options is not necessarily better than fewer: “In a simulation study, a standard computer-based administration provided a numeric scale for each item ranging from 0 to 10. The tests were then rescored to simulate the effect of only three choices. For the follow-up study, two versions of the scale were created, one with two response options and the other with six response options, and were randomly assigned to participants.
Scientists have identified another personal factor that influences how we perceive the physical world – intelligence (for others, see, for example, http://researchdesignconnections.com/pub/quiet-power-introverts-world-can’t-stop-talking). Recently, Duje Tadin of the University of Rochester found that “People with high IQ scores aren't just more intelligent. They also process sensory information differently . . . .
Kemp and Williams analyzed business meetings in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). What they learned is useful to people developing work environments in the UAE and neighboring countries with similar business behavior. Kemp and Williams found that “the Gulf Arab region offers an eclectic mix of different cross-cultural interactions, when business meetings are being conducted. Using . . . data about [scheduled] meetings held in three large organizations, each with a diverse cross-cultural workforce . . .