Latest Blog Posts

Aristizabal and colleagues continue their research into the repercussions of biophilic in-workplace experiences.  For the project reported here, they again exposed study participants to an assortment of experiences.  The space where data were collected  “allowed individuals to perform their typical workday task for 10 weeks. . . . After a 2-week acclimation period, participants were exposed to three biophilic conditions (visual, auditory and multisensory) as well as the baseline setting.”  In the visual condition, participants viewed “Indoor plants, projections of greenery, and artwork displaying nature scenes.”  In the auditory one they heard “Sounds of gentle streams, crickets, and birds native to the Midwest region of the United States” where data were collected.  In the multisensory project phase, study participants experienced the biophilic sights and sounds noted.  In summary: “Participants felt more satisfied with their workplace conditions during the biophilic interventions compared to baseline conditions.  Participants reported feeling more satisfied with the aesthetic appearance and visual privacy in the visual and multisensory conditions.  Similarly, participants reported improvements in perceived productivity in the visual and multisensory conditions. . . . results suggest that immersive biophilic environments can improve aspects of cognitive performance, environmental satisfaction and reduces stress in an office environment.”

Sara Aristizabal, Bing Guo, Regina Vaicekonyte, and Carolina Campanella.  2021.  “Nature and Stress Don’t Mix:  Results form a Biophilic Office Design Study.”  Association for Neuroscience for Architecture Conference, Poster presentation, September 17

A new version of an ever useful circadian stimulus calculator is available; it will be as useful to people doing things such as developing circadian lighting systems as the previous one.  The website at which the new calculator is available free of charge (noted below) shares that “The Light and Health Research Center (LHRC) at Mount Sinai has released an extensively revised version of its free, open access circadian stimulus (CS) calculator based on recent advances in the understanding of light’s effects on the human circadian system.  As with earlier incarnations of the tool created when LHRC researchers were based at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, the CS Calculator version 2.0 is designed to help lighting professionals quantify potential circadian-effective light exposures in architectural spaces.”

“LHRC Releases Version 2.0 of Circadian Stimulus Calculator.” 2021.  Press release, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai,

Neilson, Craig, Altman, Travis, Vance, and Klein extend the discussion of biophilic design to spacecraft interiors; psychological and physiological stressors in these environments make them really challenging places for humans to spend time.  The researchers report on how biophilic elements can be introduced into spacecraft: “Astronauts living in space will be unable to access natural landscapes and other environments found to have restorative effects on psychological stress and overall well-being. . . . . research on the usage of VR has shown that environments with natural elements can reduce stress and anxiety (Yin et al., 2020).  Virtual natural spaces have also been shown to be perceived as restorative as natural outdoor environments and even potentially evoke similar engagement, interest, and positive affect akin to natural outdoor environments. . . . artificial windows . . . have been easy to implement on Earth. . . . . potted plants or plants within gardens could be a feasible biophilic addition. . . . Digital nature images are among the cheapest and most efficient methods of introducing greenery to passengers. . . . natural sounds have been used . . . to evoke a restorative effect.”

Brittany Neilson, Curtis Craig, George Altman, Alexandra Travis, Joseph Vance, and Martina Klein.  2021.  “Can the Biophilia Hypothesis  Be Applied to Long-Duration Human Space Flight?  A Mini-Review.”  Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 12, 703766, doi:  10.3389/fpsyg.2021.703766

Holt, Zapetis, Babadi, and Tootell chart how COVID has influenced the size of our preferred personal space zones.  They report that “during the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing recommendations led to deliberate expansions of personal space outside of intimate social circles. In the laboratory, personal space preferences are quite stable over repeated measurements. Here, we collected such measurements both before and during the pandemic in the same individuals, using both conventional and virtual reality-based techniques. We found that the size of personal space, and discomfort ratings in response to personal space intrusions, increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, in response to both real humans and virtual ‘others’. Moreover, this increase in personal space requirements correlated with the perceived, not the actual, risk of being infected with COVID-19 – even in a virtual reality environment in which there was no possibility of infection. Thus, quantification of personal space may reveal some of the psychological effects of the pandemic, and subsequent progress towards recovery.”

Daphne Holt, Sarah Zapetis, Baktash Babadi, and Roger Tootell.  “Personal Space Increases During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Response to Real and Virtual Humans.”  medRxiv,

Crown investigated how the sensory systems of people on the autism spectrum process information from the physical world.  She reports that “Conservatively speaking, over 90% of people with autism process perceptual information in atypical ways (Crane et al., 2009). Any stimulus may be experienced as too intense, too weak, or as simply un-integrate-able.”  Two studies conducted by Crown indicate that “challenges autistic individuals face in processing, interpreting, and functioning smoothly in their environments . . . may well relate to their fragmented and irregular perceptual processing. . . . The person with autism understandably adopts rigidities to try to coax their world into some degree of manageable predictability. . . . The ways that people with autism experience and take in information lead to experiences of distraction, assault, and anxiety and set several complications in motion: Over-focus on detail, fending off painful or disorganizing sensation and the resulting difficulty considering context likely lead to internal representations of self, other, and the world that are similarly atypical.”

Nancy Crown. “Oh No!  I see a Pit:  Making Sense of the Sensory on the Autism Spectrum.”  Psychoanalytic Psychology, in press,

Chesterman, de Pattista, and Causse evaluated the during-lockdown experiences of people living in France.  They found that “Household affordances were found to be a positive factor of lockdown coping and resilience. . . . larger residences are positively related to resilience, and suggests that household affordances such as private areas, space to practice a physical activity, access to outdoors, adequate workspace, and proximity to healthcare services (…), are integral to coping with lockdown and building resilience. . . . . our results indicate that increasing affordances of the home during lockdown would have positive effects no matter the social position. . . . individuals with outdoor access during lockdown adopted more problem-focused and less emotion-focused coping strategies than those with no outdoor access.  . . . . Specific, modifiable affordances, such as Internet access, access to outdoor spaces, neighbourly support programs, and availability of sporting apparatus, should be a focus in future lockdowns as they were associated with higher levels of coping strategies and resilience.”

A. Chesterman, M. de Pattista, and E. Causse.  2021.  “Effects of Social Position and Household Affordances on COVID-19 Lockdown Resilience and Coping.”  Journal of Environmental Psychology, vol. 78, 101687,

Recent research indicates just how long we’ve been using things to send nonverbal messages.  A press release from the University of Arizona reports that “The necklace, nametag, earrings or uniform you chose to put on this morning might say more than you realize about your social status, job or some other aspect of your identity. Anthropologists say humans have been doing this—finding ways to communicate about themselves without the fuss of conversation—for millennia.  But shell beads recovered from a cave in western Morocco, determined to be between 142,000 and 150,000 years old, suggest that this behavior may go back much farther than previously thought.”  The study related to the Morocco find is published in Science Advances, and its lead author is El Mehdi Sehasseh.

“Those Earrings Are So Last Year – But the Reason You’re Wearing Them Is Ancient.”  2021.  Press release, The University of Arizona,

How do names influence perceptions?  Zhang, Li, and Ng found that “Size cues are increasingly common in brand names (e.g., Xiaomi and Mini Cooper). . . . This research shows that a brand name size cue can evoke gender associations, which subsequently affect consumers’ perceived warmth and competence of the target brand. . . . brands with a size cue of smallness in the name are perceived to be warmer but less competent, while those with a size cue of  bigness are perceived to be less warm but more competent. . . .  this research rules out alternative accounts based on perceived market power and firm size.”

Kuangjie Zhang, Shabo Li, and Sharon Ng.  “Sizes Are Gendered:  The Effect of Size Cues in Brand Names on Brand Stereotyping.”  Journal of Consumer Research, in press,

Sanciangco and colleagues investigated links between urban design and crime.  They report that “Residents in US cities are exposed to high levels of stress and violent crime. At the same time, a number of cities have put forward “greening” efforts which may promote nature’s calming effects and reduce stressful stimuli. Previous research has shown that greening may lower aggressive behaviors and violent crime. . . . we examined, for the first time, the longitudinal effects over a 30-year period of average city greenness on homicide rates across 290 major cities in the US. . . . Overall, homicide rates in US cities decreased over this time-period . . . while the average greenness increased slightly. . . . Change in average city greenness was negatively associated with homicide, controlling for a range of variables. . . .  The results of this study suggest that efforts to increase urban greenness may have small but significant violence-reduction benefits.”

Jonnell Sanciangco, Gregory Breetzke, Zihan Lin, Yuhao Wang, Kimberly Clevenger, and Amber Pearson.  “The Relationship Between City ‘Greeness’ and Homicide in the US:  Evidence Over a 30-Year Period.”  Environment and Behavior, in press,

Recently completed research indicates that there may be good reasons we talk about colors in the ways we do.  Investigators lead by Twomey have learned that “cultures across the globe differ in their need to communicate about certain colors.   Linking almost all languages, however, is an emphasis on communicating about warm colors—reds and yellows—that are known to draw the human eye and that correspond with the colors of ripe fruits in primate diets. . . . .While an emphasis on reds and yellows was universal, certain languages also had high communicative needs for blues, while greens turned up as important in other languages. . . . Cultures that shared similar ecoregions were more similar in their communicative needs around colors, perhaps owing to plants or animals in that region that were important for food or other uses.” The Twomey-lead study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Mapping Words to Color.”  2021.  Press release, University of Pennsylvania,


Subscribe to Latest Blog Posts