sensory science

Design and Communication (03-26-15)

Orbach and her colleagues collected information via electronic, sociometric badges that links workplace design and employee communication.  The data they gathered at their study indicates that “workers who were encouraged to utilize flexible seating arrangements in a remodeled space had a higher proportion of face-to-face [and IM] interactions with colleagues outside of their team. . . .

Homecoming Really Does Make Us Feel Good (03-25-15)

Anthropologists at the University of California, Santa Barbara, studied the hormonal balance of men returning home.  They determined (and reported in the Royal Society journal Biological Letters) that “Absence, it seems, really does make the heart grow fonder. . . .That’s according to . . . anthropologists, who found that levels of the “love” hormone oxytocin increases among Tsimane men when they come home to their families after a day of hunting. . . .The Tsimane are an indigenous population of forager-farmers and hunters who live in the lowlands of Bolivia’s Amazon basin. .

Increasing Use of Bike-Sharing Programs Via Design (03-24-15)

Repositioning the distribution points for bicycles and increasing the number of bikes available could increase ridership in bike-sharing programs by almost 30%.  A press release from the University of Chicago’s Booth business school, indicates that “Although bike-sharing systems have attracted considerable attention, they are falling short of their potential to transform urban transportation. . . . it is possible for cities to increase ridership without spending more money on bikes or docking points—simply by redesigning the network. . . .

Scent-Related Carryover Effects (03-23-15)

Getting odd reports about odors in spaces or linked to objects?  Rodriguez and her team completed research that may help explain your data.  They determined that “In two studies, participants were asked to view images of heavy [overweight or obese] and thin individuals while smelling substances that, unbeknownst to them, were odorless. Across both studies, the results showed that the substances were perceived to smell worse when they were paired with images of heavy individuals than when they were paired with images of thin individuals.”

Weather and Workplace Performance (03-20-15)

Weather can create challenges that are difficult for workplace design to overcome.  A press release issued by the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management indicates that “The best time to invest in U.S. Treasury securities may be spring, thanks to seasonal variations in investor risk tolerance linked to depression. A team of finance researchers found that the monthly return on those securities showed an average swing of 80 basis points between October –when returns peaked –and April, when they bottomed out.

Direction for Apparent Motion (03-19-15)

People viewing art have clear expectations for the direction of apparent motion in still images such as artwork.  Walker asked,  “What artistic conventions are used to convey the motion of animate and inanimate items in still images, such as drawings and photographs?”  He reports that  “One graphic convention involves depicting items leaning forward into their movement, with greater leaning conveying greater speed. . . . people . . . expect to see, or prefer to see, lateral movement (real or implied) in a left to right direction, rather than a right to left direction. .

Name and Font Repercussions (03-18-15)

The fonts in which messages are presented influence our responses to them.  So does how easy it is to pronounce what’s written in that font.  Manley and his team learned that when interventions were presented to patients, “The easier the font was to read, the less complex the intervention was perceived.”  In more detail: when “the title and font of the PIS [participant information sheet] had been manipulated [by changing how easy the title was to pronounce and how easy the font it was written in was to read] to create four experimental conditions (i.e., Double Fluent

Curbing Night Light Pollution, for Nature’s Sake (03-17-15)

Nighttime light can be bad for nature—so deploy it responsibly.  A press release from the University of Exeter, reporting on work published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, indicates that “Artificial night time light from sources such as street lamps affects the growth and flowering of plants and even the number of insects that depend on those plants for food. . . .

Hearing Classical Music Makes Some of Us Different, Literally (03-16-15)

Kanduri and his research team learned that listening to classical music affects the activity of some of our genes if we have an aptitude for music or we’ve had more than 10 years of music education.  The genes associated with dopamine production (which has been linked to feeling rewarded, for example), memory, and learning are more active when we’re listening to classical music if we have the aptitude for music or education noted earlier.

Types of Airport Visitors (03-13-15)

Harrison, Popovic and Kraal have studied people in airports and developed a way to categorize them that’s useful to people designing spaces and experiences.  The researchers report that “Increasingly, the basic criteria used to segment passengers (purpose of trip and frequency of travel) no longer provide adequate insights into the passenger experience. . . .Based on our research, a relationship between time sensitivity and degree of passenger engagement was identified.