sensory science

Nature Sounds Work! (10-03-14)

Natural sounds effectively support recovery from stressful events, making them good choices for the soundscapes of workplaces and other spaces where users will inevitably experience tension—particularly if it’s difficult to incorporate stress-reducing images into these environments. Benfield and his team report that “Visual exposure to natural scenes can aid in recovery from stress, attentional fatigue, and physical ailments including surgery and sickness. . . . The current study extends prior work on the benefit of natural visual scenes to the domain of natural auditory exposure.

Restoration at Work (10-02-14)

Korpela and his team investigated restorative experiences at work.  They report that “Increasing evidence shows that outdoor natural environments are more efficient in producing restoration than outdoor built environments. Anecdotal evidence shows that window views to natural elements buffer the negative impact of job stress on intention to quit; the more natural elements, the less the negative impact of job stress on turnover intentions.

Ownership and Culture (10-01-14)

Gjersoe and her team have learned that our national culture influences how we respond to objects.  More specifically, “individualistic cultures place a greater value on objects associated with unique persons [than collectivist ones].”  This finding has repercussions for design of spaces in general and the allocation of space to individuals, as well as the resolution of other design-related issues.

Standing Up in Class (09-30-14)

Benden and his colleagues investigated how providing students with stand-biased desks (taller desks equipped with footrests for one foot while students stand and tall-ish stools) instead of conventional school desks influenced experiences at school. Students with the stand-biased desk were free to sit or stand, as they wished. The researchers learned that “activity-permissive classrooms do not cause harm to [elementary-school age] students; result in increased energy expenditure that may combat obesity among those in the highest risk categories; and improve behavioral engagement. . . .

Low Frequency Sound (09-29-14)

Humans are indeed affected by low frequency sounds, according to an article published in Royal Society Open Science.  Researchers from Munich have learned that although “The human auditory system appears to be poorly adapted to the perception of low-frequency sound waves. . . . Yet sensory cells do react to pressure waves with frequencies below 100 Hz, as revealed by the fact that such signals actually evoke detectable micromechanical responses in nerve cells in the inner ear. . .

We All Lip Read (09-26-14)

Plass and colleagues report that all humans lip read to understand speech.  As the researchers report, this “facilitate[s] auditory perception of the corresponding spoken words.”  This finding supports making sure spaces where people are expected to socialize can support lip reading, via appropriate lighting levels, glare elimination, and furniture arrangements, for example.

Gardens and Dementia (09-25-14)

Whear and her fellow researchers conducted a literature review of studies dealing with dementia among people living in care homes and time spent in gardens.  More specifically they “examine[d] the impact of gardens and outdoor spaces on the mental and physical well-being of people with dementia who are resident in care homes and [to] understand the views of people with dementia, their carers, and care home staff on the value of gardens and outdoor spaces.”  They found “promising impacts on levels of agitation in care home residents with dementia who spend time in a garden.”&n

Smart Meters May Not Make People Happy (09-24-14)

Although smart meters can “help individuals monitor and reduce their energy usage,” they may lead to negative social situations.  As Leygue and her colleagues report, “In a situation where one person used more than their fair share of energy, displays showing the average amount of usage in the house were associated with feelings of guilt and fear and a decrease in intention to use energy.

Color-Shape Associations (09-23-14)

Chen and colleagues have identified associations between shapes and colors consistent with those unearthed in a 2013 study by Albertazzi and associates.  Chen’s research was done with Japanese people and Albertazzi’s with Italians.  As Chen and her co-workers report “The warm colors (e.g., RR [red] and YR [colors between yellow and red such as orange]) tended to be associated with the warm [bordered by curved lines] shapes (e.g., circle and oval), and cold colors (e.g., RB [colors between red and blue, such as purple], BB [blue], and BG [colors between blue and green]) tended to b

Telecommuting Ups Performance and Better for Some Than Others (09-22-14)

A study that will soon be published in Personnel Psychology, conducted by Gajendran, Harrison, and Delaney-Klinger, determined that telecommuting enhances performance overall and for some individuals more than others.  Many current workplace design strategies require sets of employees to telecommute to work, at least occasionally.  The researchers learned that “telecommuting is positively associated with improvements in task- and context-based performance, which refers to an employee’s organizational citizenship behavior, including their contributions toward creating a po