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Kimura and colleagues assessed the how mentally refreshing various situations are.  They report that they conducted an experiment that “involved measuring the changes in the task performance of the participants (i.e., sustained attention to response task) and the subjective mental workload . . . while the attention restoration was indexed from physiological response (i.e., skin conductance level, SCL) over time. The participants had two types of resting periods in the middle of the task, i.e., by looking at a blank display (simple break) or by watching a nature video having scenes of, e.g., a forest, small waterfall, and rustling leaves (nature break). . . . our results showed that taking breaks that involve the natural environment (i.e., nature break condition) restore the attention directed at a task and decreases the SCL, like in previous studies. Moreover, this effect also occurred with brief (i.e., 5 min) and indirect (i.e., videos) exposure, unlike in previous studies.”

Tsukasa Kimura, Tatsuya Yamada, Yohko Hirokawa, and Kazumitsu Shinohara.  2021.  “Brief and Indirect Exposure to Natural Environment Restores the Directed Attention for the Task.”  Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 12,

Sidhu and colleagues extended research findings previously derived with nonwords to English words. The group reports that “Sound symbolism refers to associations between language sounds (i.e., phonemes) and perceptual and/or semantic features. One example is the maluma/takete effect: an association between certain phonemes (e.g., /m/, /u/) and roundness [as, for example, with maluma], and others (e.g., /k/, /ɪ/) and spikiness [as, for instance, with takete]. While this association has been demonstrated in laboratory tasks with nonword stimuli. . . . Here we examined whether the maluma/takete effect is attested in English, across a broad sample of words. . . . We found evidence that phonemes associated with roundness are more common in words referring to round objects, and phonemes associated with spikiness are more common in words referring to spiky objects.”  

David Sidhu, Chris Westbury, Geoff Hollis, and Penny Pexman.  “Sound Symbolism Shapes the English Language:  The Maluma/Takete Effect in English Nouns.”  Psychonomic Bulletin and Review,

James and colleagues, via a literature review, evaluated employee experiences in cellular offices and more open workspaces.  Their research compared data collected for cellular workspaces with information from all other types of work areas (all those without full height walls and a door assigned to one individual).  The researchers determined that “working in open-plan workplace designs is associated with more negative outcomes on many measures relating to health, satisfaction, productivity, and social relationships. Notable health outcomes included decreased overall health and increased stress. Environmental characteristics of particular concern included noise and distractions, poor privacy, lighting and glare, and poorer temperature control. Most studies indicated negative effects on social relationships and interactions. Overall, the findings showed that while open-plan workplace designs may offer financial benefits for management, these appear to be offset by the intangible costs associated with the negative effects on workers.”

Olivia James, Paul Delfabbro, and Daniel King.  “A Comparison of Psychological and Work Outcomes in Open-Plan and Cellular Office Designs:  A Systematic Review.”  Sage Open, in press,

Elzeyadi probed  preferences for workplace views and the wellbeing-related consequences of particular views.  He reports that “Results suggest that the current classification of views into two types: views of nature versus urban views is misleading and does not realistically represent the typical content of the views.  Instead, a scaled dimension and metric to evaluate views based on their composition and content of their attributes is more accurate. . . .  Positive attributes are sky cover, trees, shrubs, soft ground, plants, and pedestrians; while negative attributes are paved areas, street networks, parking lots, and cars. Of equal importance are mid-quality attributes related to human-designed objects such as hardscape, buildings, landscape objects, windows, and voids/windows in buildings [this set should be proportionally less in area than the natural elements within the same view]. . . .  The fact that preferred views and viewsheds were correlated with 60-70% fewer SBS [sick building syndrome] symptoms reported is not trivial when one considers productivity and health insurance costs.”

Ihab Elzeyadi. 2021.  “Performative Views in Architecture:  Preference, Composition, and Occupant’s Wellbeing.”  Proceedings of ARCC 2021,

Spence and Levitancontinue research into links between colors seen and taste experiences. They share that “For centuries, if not millennia, people have associated the basic tastes (e.g., sweet, bitter, salty, and sour) with specific colours. . . . [there] appear to be a surprisingly high degree of consistency regarding this crossmodal mapping. . .  . the growing awareness of the robustness of colour–taste correspondences would currently seem to be of particular relevance to those working in the fields of design and multisensory experiential marketing. . . . Spence et al. (2015) concluded that pink and red were most strongly associated with sweetness, yellow and green with sour, white and blue with salty, and browny/black and purple (or possibly green) with bitter. The colours associated with the taste of umami have been less intensively investigated thus far and, what is more, haven’t yet led to especially consistent results.”

Charles Spence and Carmel Levitan.  2021. “Explaining Crossmodal Correspondences Between Colours and Tastes.”  i-Perception, vol. 12, no. 3,

Damiano and colleagues studied the psychological implications of symmetry in natural scenes. They report that “Symmetry generally makes stimuli less complex, and symmetric arrangements are also generally preferred to asymmetric ones. . . . We collected ratings of complexity, aesthetic pleasure, and interest for 720 scene images and calculated average ratings for each image. . . . as symmetry increases and makes a scene less complex, it also renders the scene less pleasing and interesting. . . . our results lend support to the idea that both complexity and simplicity influence the aesthetic pleasure of natural scenes.”

C. Damiano, J. Wilder, E. Zhou, D. Walther, and J. Wagemans. “The Role of Local and Global Symmetry in Pleasure, Interest, and Complexity Judgments of Natural Scenes.”  Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts, in press,

Altmann, Brachmann, and Redies manipulated the colors originally used by artists in abstract paintings and identified important implications of particular color choices. The trio reports that “Despite the great diversity in the use of color between epochs, there are some surprisingly stable and unifying features in chromatic properties across visual artworks. For example, artists’ palettes seem to be biased toward the yellow-red [including orange-] range of the spectrum. Here, we assess the impact of a holistic color manipulation (i.e., rotating the color gamut) on aesthetic liking and perceived colorfulness of abstract paintings. We presented 6 versions each of 100 abstract artworks that differed only in the rotational degree of their color gamut within the CIELAB space. Results indicated a very stable preference for the original color compositions—both on a participant level and on an item level. Furthermore, participants perceived original color compositions as more colorful than rotated versions. . . . it seems that the aesthetic appeal of original artworks arises from nontrivial color features, which are characterized by their distribution within the visible spectrum.”  In the manipulation, the color of every pixel in digital versions of the colorful original artworks was rotated the same distance on the color space (60 degrees for each rotation).  These rotations resulted in images that were perceived to be less colorful, even though the same number of colors were present as in the originals, and the “rotated” images were liked less than the originals, even if the original had not been seen before by the study participant.  Statistical analyses completed indicated that participants did not simply prefer colorful images.

Carolin Altmann, Anselm Brachmann, and Christop Redies.  2021. “Liking of Art and the Perception of Color.”  Journal of Experimental Psychology, Human Perception, and Performance, vol. 47, no 4, pp. 545-564,

Researchers have tied citizen happiness to urban greenspace.  Kwon and colleagues report that “By measuring the urban green space score (UGS) from high-resolution satellite imagery of 90 global cities covering 179,168 km2 and 230 million people in 60 developed countries, we find that the amount of urban green space and GDP are correlated with a nation’s happiness level. More specifically, urban green space and GDP are each individually associated with happiness. Yet, only urban green space is related to happiness in the 30 wealthiest countries. . . . These findings corroborate the importance of maintaining urban green space as a place for social cohesion to support people’s happiness. . . . While our findings confirmed a strong correlation between urban green space and happiness in developed countries, the same positive relation holds for developing countries, albeit to a smaller degree.”

Oh-Hyun Kwon, Inho Hong, Jeasurk Yang, Donghee Wohn, Woo-Sung Jung, and Meeyoung Cha.  2021.  “Urban Green Space and Happiness in Developed Countries.”  EPJ Data Science, vol. 10, 28,

Xia and colleagues link feeling nostalgic and the purchase of new products.  The research team reports that their “research investigates the motivational effect of nostalgia induced by aversive and threatening situations (e.g., COVID-19) on new product purchase intentions. . . .  perceived COVID severity induces feelings of nostalgia and that heightened nostalgia boosts purchase intentions for new products. We replicate the effect with nostalgia triggered by a different threat (i.e., social unrest). . . . by inducing nostalgia through a threatening personal situation (i.e., mortality salience . . .) and manipulating nostalgia directly . . . we further generalize the link between nostalgia and new product purchase intentions beyond COVID-19. . . . While consumer sentiment may be down during COVID or other negative natural social situations, nostalgia is an effective coping mechanism . . . and produces important motivating downstream effects. Nostalgia motivates the desire for the search for meaning. Trying new products is one way to satisfy that desire.”

Lan Xia, Joyce Wang, and Shelle Santana.  2021. “Nostalgia:  Triggers and Its Role on New Product Purchase Intentions.”  Journal of Business Research, vol. 135, pp. 183-194,

New research indicates how to manage early and late stages of experiences via design or other means when both can not be supported equally. A team lead by Keren has determined that “early experiences may have a larger effect on our mood than more recent events. . . . People routinely report on their moods during everyday activities and when they interact with clinicians providing mental health care. It is commonly believed that the most recent experiences during a task or interaction with someone else may have the strongest effect on how an individual feels at a given time. But in a series of experiments, researchers show that early experiences can have a more significant impact on someone’s mood. . . .  imaging data also suggested that earlier experiences . . . ‘switched on’ parts of the frontal brain associated with moods, rather than later events.” The same experience-based outcomes were found in adolescents and adults.

“Early Experiences Have Larger Effect in Mood Than More Recent Ones, Study Suggests.”  2021.  Press release, eLife,


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