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sensory science

More Research on Interruptions (07-18-14)

Research published in Human Factors confirms that interruptions while working have a negative effect on performance.  Foroughi, Werner, Nelson, and Boehm-Davis report that “the typical employee in an office environment is interrupted up to six times per hour.”  Foroughi and his team linked interruptions to lower quality work: “Two groups of participants were given time to outline and write an essay on an assigned topic. One group was interrupted multiple times with an unrelated task, and a control group had no interruptions.

Cultural Differences in Reasons for Modifications (07-17-14)

Researchers have identified an important difference in the reason people from Korean and American cultures personalize their cell phones; their work has implications for the personalization options and process provided for any designed object/location.  Sundar and Lee learned “In a study on culture and mobile phone customization. . . that people from Eastern cultures tend to be more motivated to change the look and sound of their mobile phones than people in Western countries.”  The research team found that “Koreans were more focused on how to fit into social situations. . . .

Older People and Distractions (07-16-14)

People designing spaces where older adults can be expected to do cognitive work, for example, fill out medical forms, must make certain those areas are free of sensory distractions.  A team from Rice and Johns Hopkins reports that  “Older people are nearly twice as likely as their younger counterparts to have their memory and cognitive processes impaired by environmental distractions.” Two groups of people participated in this study; a set whose average age was 21 (with individual ages ranging from 18 to 32) and another with an average age of 71 (ranging between 64 and 82). 

Gardens for People with Dementia (07-15-14)

A research team at the University of Exeter confirmed that gardens can enrich the lives of people with dementia.  Whear and her team report that they learned via a literature review that “gardens in care homes could provide promising therapeutic benefits for patients suffering from dementia. . . . outdoor spaces can offer environments that promote relaxation, encourage activity and reduce residents' agitation. . . .

Designing Parks and Ignoring Climate Change (07-14-14)

Hatuka and Saaroni document the problems that ensue when park designers don’t realize that their work should reflect the local implications of global climate change.  The researchers report that “Though widely acknowledged, climate change and global warming considerations are poorly integrated in landscape planning practices. . . . [our] paper analyses the design of a contemporary urban park in Jaffa, Israel, investigating why climate considerations are so poorly addressed. . . .

Perceived Height and Ways of Thinking (07-11-14)

Aggarwal and Zhao have found that perceived height influences how people think.  They report “physical height or even the mere concept of height can impact the perceptual and conceptual levels of mental construal. . . .

Vision and Information (07-10-14)

Wang and her colleagues have learned that people of all ages often overestimate the amount of information they can gather via vision.  As the researchers state, “Humans gain a wide range of knowledge through interacting with the environment. Each aspect of our perceptual experiences offers a unique source of information about the world-colours are seen, sounds heard and textures felt. . . .

Reactions to Sustainable Design (07-09-14)

Susskind’s research on consumer responses to sustainable design elements can be applied in contexts beyond the hotel guest rooms in which it was conducted.  Susskind learned that “Subtle energy saving changes in guest rooms did not diminish satisfaction, based on a study of 192 guests at an independent four-star hotel.

Taste-Related Words and Thinking (07-08-14)

Taste-related words have a special influence on the way that we think.  This research finding may be useful to designers as they plan discussions with clients and each other and may also foreshadow future findings from studies focused on other sensory experiences.  A team of scientists from Princeton and the Free University of Berlin have learned that “taste-related metaphors such as ‘sweet’ actually engage the emotional centers of the brain more than literal words such as ‘kind’ that have the same meaning.”

Fonts and Noise and Distraction (07-07-14)

Halin and his team have learned that there is a relationship between how hard it is to read a font and how easily people are distracted in a noisy environment while reading a message printed in that font.  The researchers had “Participants read, either in quiet or with a speech noise background, texts that were displayed either in an easy-to-read or a hard-to-read font.”  They learned that “Background speech impaired prose recall, but only when the text was displayed in the easy-to-read font.