How do image content and hue influence our emotional response to what we’re looking at? Kuzinas and colleagues set out to answer this question by showing people photographs of urban and nature scenes, either in their original states or modified to be in grayscale, red, or green: “natural content [images showing nature] elicited more positive and less arousing emotions compared to the urban one [images showing urban places]. Green images were less arousing compared to red ones, and original images [those appearing in their original colors] elicited the most pleasant emotions.
Automation is becoming more prevalent in our world, but do we trust it? How can design be used to foster human’s faith in machines? De Visser and his team share that “Some researchers propose that people apply the same social norms to computers as they do to humans. . . . In contrast, theories of human–automation interaction postulate that humans respond to machines in unique and specific ways.
Fleig and team’s research confirms that perceptions drive action. Data collected in a “highly walkable” neighborhood from older adults (average age 70) were assessed. Information on attitudes and perceptions was gathered via a questionnaire and actual movement was determined via ActiGraph GT3X + accelerometers worn for 7 consecutive days. Analyses indicated that “perceived street connectivity and diversity of land use were negatively related to sedentary behavior. . . . the perceived built environment is important for physical activity and sedentary behavior . . .
Hospitals have been adding hotel-like amenities for some time; new research indicates their value to patients. Suess-Raeisinafchi and Modv found that “patients are willing to spend 38 percent [out of pocket] more for a hospital room if it has the right kind of hotel-quality upgrades.” Researchers “surveyed about 400 people online, all of whom had been in a hospital in the past six months.
Kim and his team investigated the experiences of people working without a space at their corporate offices that they could claim as their own on an ongoing basis. The researchers report that “It is clear that the main driver for desk sharing practices is the tangible economic benefits guaranteed by reducing the amount of office space per person. . . . This paper draws on a database from Australian building occupant survey to investigate how desk arrangements (whether or not one has a pre-allocated desk) can affect occupant satisfaction, self-reported productivity or health at workplaces.
The temperatures people will experience in outdoor spaces should have a significant effect on design decisions. Sharifi, Sivam and Boland report that “During summer heatwaves, heat load exacerbates in urban heat islands (especially in hot climates) and threatens public life in cities. . . . Heat resilience is . . . the ability of the space to support its normal activities when experiencing out-of-comfort temperatures.” The researchers studied “the links between urban microclimates, outdoor thermal discomfort and public life. . .
How much is green certification worth? Chopra and Wu studied companies in the computer and electronics industry; “They paired each company [in their study that had undertaken eco-friendly practices] with a control firm that did not initiate eco-friendly practices but was similar across a variety of factors, including its geographical location, size, sales, and assets. . . .
People of different ages assess cities using different criteria. Hogan and his team “hypothesised that citizens’ ratings of their city along dimensions of performance (e.g., basic – usually government – services related to education, healthcare, social services, and policing) and place (e.g., the beauty of the city and a built environment that provides access to cultural, sport, park, transport, and shopping amenities) would be significant predictors of happiness but that the nature of these effects would change over the lifespan.” Collecting data via a survey from 5,000
Background noise influences toddlers’ ability to learn. McMillan and Saffran studied two sets of toddlers (22-24 months old and 28-30 months old) who were being taught new words in a space where other people could be heard speaking. Both the older and younger children “successfully learned novel label–object pairings when target speech was 10 dB louder than background speech but not when the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) was 5 dB [meaning when the teacher’s voice was only 5 decibels louder than background speech].
Okulicz-Kozaryn and Mazelis studied how happy people living in cities are. Their work indicates that “people in cities are less happy, confirming a long-standing argument in the literature. . . . the core characteristics of urban life (in particular size and density) contribute to urban unhappiness.” Statistical techniques were used to rule out urban problems (such as crime and poverty) as explanations for this unhappiness.
Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn and Joan Mazelis. “Urbanism and Happiness: A Test of Wirth’s Theory of Urban Life.” Urban Studies, in press.