sensory science

Economic Arguments for Walkability (06-17-15)

Alfonzo reports on recently completed research indicating that there are financial reasons, in addition to psychological and health ones, to design in walkability.  As she details “Walkability is no longer something that is merely nice to have or a luxury; it is a key to economic competitiveness. Millennials and seniors are leading the charge.

Return Trip Shorter (06-16-15)

Ozawa and her colleagues have confirmed that return trips back to starting locations seem shorter than trips from that initial start location to the point at which people begin their return journey.  As the researchers report, “the return trip does actually make us feel that time is shorter.” This research may provide designers and managers with insights on data collected during programming, research and similar activities. 

Positive Moods (06-15-15)

Diener and his team identified the mood that people are most likely to experience.  And it’s slightly positive.  Their work is important to designers, who are often trying to create spaces in which people feel good.  Designers need to consider whether the experiences that people have in developed areas will destroy the positive mood that they likely had on entry.  As the researchers report “Evidence shows that people feel mild positive moods when no strong emotional events are occurring, a phenomenon known as positive mood offset. . . .

Adding Bright Light (06-12-15)

Newly published research indicates it’s a good idea to make sure that people leaving a space at night or in the early morning are exposed to bright light (5600 lux).  This can be accomplished by cycling lights so that they are bright at the end of a work period or brightly lighting areas people will frequent before leaving, such as locker rooms.  Researchers have determined that “bright light at the end of a night shift may have potential as a countermeasure to improve driving performance, particularly for . . . commutes that occur before dawn.”

Busting Workplace Anxiety (06-11-15)

Kouchaki and Desai’s research indicates that feeling anxious at work has a range of ramifications.  Anxiety “motivates people to pursue their goals, and it keeps employees on task—too much of it can lead to poor performance and deteriorating health. . . . anxiety can have an [negative] impact on employees’ ethics. . . . because anxiety causes people to focus inward and concentrate on acquiring resources—including money— those in its grip are more likely to lie, cheat, or steal than those in healthier mental states.

Response Box Design (06-10-15)

Designers and researchers often write surveys with open-ended questions.  To answer open-ended questions, people don’t select an answer from among a set supplied by the person who wrote the survey, but compose and type in their own response.  Mohr and her team state that “scores on fluency, elaboration, and originality, core constructs of participants’ assessed creative ability, were systematically influenced by the visual design of the response boxes [for a survey] . . . .

Satisfaction with Apartments (06-09-15)

Mridha investigated factors linked to satisfaction with developer-built, medium-rise apartments in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.  She found via surveys that “Management and Maintenancemade the strongest unique contribution in predicting residential satisfaction. However, the location of the apartment building was an important predictor of overall residential satisfaction. Thus, urban planning and urban design characteristics were more important to overall residential satisfaction than the strictly architectural characteristics.

Physical Activity: Outdoors? with Company? (06-08-15)

Dunton and her colleagues learned that some contexts are better for physical activity than others.  They report on research they’ve done in real world environments, not laboratories: “Greater positive affect [mood] during physical activity was reported when with other people (vs. alone). . . . Lower negative affect [mood] during physical activity was reported outdoors (vs. indoors).”  These findings have implications for the design of exercise facilities, physical therapy suites, and similar locations.

Culture and Territoriality (06-05-15)

Our national culture influences performance advantages that result being on our home turf.  Gelade reports that “ home advantage (HA) . . . is the tendency for teams to perform better when playing on their home ground than when playing away. . . . HA tends to be elevated in countries with high levels of collectivism and in-group favoritism.”

Garry Gelade.  2015.  “National Culture and Home Advantage in Football.”  Cross-Cultural Research, vol. 49, no. 3, pp. 281-296.

Feeling Nostalgic and Creativity (06-04-15)

When humans feel nostalgic, they’re apt to think more creatively.  Nostalgia can be induced, to some extent, through cues included in environments, such as photographs of times past.  Van Tilburg and his team, via methodologies used, eliminated good moods as an explanation for the effect of nostalgia on creativity found.

Wijnand van Tilburg, Constantine Sedikides, and Tim Wilschut.  2015.  “The Mnemonic Muse:  Nostalgia Fosters Creativity Through Openness to Experience.”  Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, vol. 59, pp. 1-7.