sensory science

Walking, Cycling, and Pollution (05-09-16)

Think that a place has so much air pollution that walkways, bicycle paths, etc., there are not a good investment?  Reconsider.  Researchers have found that “The health benefits of walking and cycling outweigh the negative effects on health of air pollution, even in cities with high levels of air pollution.”  Investigators conclude that “in practical terms, air pollution risks will not negate the health benefits of active travel in the vast majority of urban areas worldwide.

Observed Inequality and Behavior (05-06-16)

DeCelles and Norton link unequal conditions and antisocial behavior.  As they share, “We suggest that physical and situational inequality are built into people’s everyday environments—such as the modern airplane—and that exposure to these forms of inequality can trigger antisocial behavior. . . . temporary exposure to physical and situational inequality predicts antisocial behavior among individuals in both higher and lower classes.” So, “Physical inequality on airplanes—that is, the presence of a first class cabin—is associated with more frequent air rage incidents in economy class.

Political Ideology and Memory (05-05-16)

There is lots of focus on politics in the United States right now, so it seems appropriate to share information on a recent study linking political ideology and memory.  More generally, the findings reported by Mills and his colleagues may aid in the analysis of programming research.  The team shared that “Variation in political ideology has been linked to differences in attention to and processing of emotional stimuli, with stronger responses to negative versus positive stimuli (negativity bias) the more politically conservative one is.

Conformity and Status (05-04-16)

Recent research by Gray and colleagues indicates that the likelihood that we will conform to design-related behavior in an area is tied to the relative wealth/status of that location, more wealth/status, more conformity.  As a press release from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill related to their work reports “Fashion seems to embrace two opposite goals—fitting in with the crowd and standing out from it. Now new research reveals that the choice to fit in or stand out depends on who exactly the crowd is – and the size of their high heels.

Intuition and Knowing (05-02-16)

During an investigation of intuition, Lufityanto, Donkin, and Pearson found that sensory information that we have not consciously processed influences decision-making.  As they report, “The long-held popular notion of intuition has garnered much attention both academically and popularly. . . .  Our behavioral and physiological data, along with evidence-accumulator models, show that nonconscious emotional information can boost accuracy and confidence in a concurrent emotion-free decision task, while also speeding up response times. . . .

Placebos Still Work (04-29-16)

Research by Garvey, Germann, and Bolton supports previous studies of the placebo effect.  They report that when people completed tasks using products that were promoted as enhancing performance on the tasks tested, their performance, objectively measured, was better than when exactly the same products were used to do the same tasks but not promoted as performance enhancing:  “Five field and laboratory studies demonstrate that this performance brand effect emerges through psychological mechanisms unrelated to functional product differences, consistent with a placebo. . . .

A Cautionary Tale (04-28-16)

Andersen and Roe report on a urban planning project in Oslo, Norway.  Their findings should be noted by people undertaking similar projects in the future.  The researchers learned that in Oslo “urban policies are designed to attract transnational companies and those in the creative class. A key strategy to achieve this has been to transform the city’s waterfront through spectacular architecture and urban design, as has taken place in other European cities. Transnational and local architects have been commissioned to design the Barcode, one of the most striking waterfront projects. . . .


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