design psychology

Translating and Research (01-29-16)

Lomas studies languages and his recent work identifies terms that are untranslatable into English.  His research is of value to designers conducting cross-cultural investigations, particularly those trying to explain puzzling results.  Untranslatable terms can provide insights into “cultural differences in constructions of well-being.” Lomas is exploring untranslatable words because “Although much attention has been paid to culture-specific psychopathologies, there have been no comparable attempts to chart positive mental states that may be particular to certain cultures.

Urban Sprawl and Social Mobility (01-28-16)

Urban sprawl seems to have implications for social mobility.  Ewing and his team report that “the United States has a much more class-bound society than other wealthy countries. The chance of upward mobility for Americans is just half that of the citizens of the Denmark and many other European countries. In addition to other influences, the built environment may contribute to the low rate of upward mobility in the U.S. . . . We examine potential pathways through which sprawl may have an effect on mobility. . . .

Encouraging Sustainable Change (01-27-16)

Want to encourage people to behave more sustainably?  Take action when they’re in the middle of a life-changing event, such as an office relocation.  Verplanken and Roy determined that  “behaviour change interventions are more effective when delivered in the context of life course changes. . . . when habits are (temporarily) disturbed, people are more sensitive to new information and adopt a mind-set that is conducive to behaviour change.”  The duo conducted “A field experiment . . .

Anthropology Website (01-26-16)

A new website, targeted at people interested in anthropology and ethnography, is now online (  The founders of the site explain that they “launched SAPIENS with a mission to bring anthropology—the study of being human—to the public, to make a difference in how people see themselves and the people around them. Our objective is to deepen your understanding of the human experience by exploring exciting, novel, thought-provoking, and unconventional ideas. . . .

Anxiety and Walking (01-22-16)

It turns out that when we’re anxious we start to travel in a particular way; research on this pattern of behavior should inform the design of emergency exit areas and also spaces where people are likely to be anxious, such as some medical facilities.  Weick and his team have learned that blindfolded, anxious people are apt to walk, or drift, toward their left.

Combatting Sensory Monotony (01-21-16)

A recent press release from NASA highlights the psychological challenges of living in a monotonous sensory environment.  Its basic message is useful to all – although few of us will ever be challenged by living in space.  NASA reports that “having limited access to stimuli to the senses . . . .[is seen as] a significant risk by  NASA’s Behavioral Health and Performance Team.”  The NASA press release quotes Dr. Jack Stuster as stating that “’Monotony of stimulation . . .

High Rise Health (01-20-16)

Research indicates that high rises as they are currently designed can be hazardous to our health—there is a lower survival rate for cardiac arrests on higher floors than on lower floors when people stricken on both the higher and lower floors are treated by the same paramedics.  As Drennan and his team report the “increasing number of people living in high-rise buildings presents unique challenges to care and may cause delays for 911-initiated first responders (including paramedics and fire department personnel) responding to calls for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. . . .

Odors and Obesity (01-19-16)

Wondering about comments about odors?  Look at user waistlines.  Patel and crew have found “positive associations between BMI [body mass index] and perceived ability to image odors and foods, but not visual objects.”  People with greater BMI’s are much better at imagining food and non-food odors than people with lower BMI’s.

Barkha Patel, Katja Aschenbrenner, Daniel Shamah, and Dana Small.  2015.  “Greater Perceived Ability to Form Vivid Mental Images in Individuals with High Compared to Low BMI.”  Appetite, vol. 91, no. 1, pp. 185-189.

More on Plants, Nature, Green and Creativity (01-15-16)

Studente, Seppala and Sadowska studied how seeing live plants, nature, and the color green influences creative thinking.  In their experiment  “Three groups [of participants] were used; one group in a classroom surrounded by plants and view to natural settings [creativity task presented on white paper], one with no views to nature but who completed the task on green paper, the third, with no plants present and no views to nature [creativity task on white paper].


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