Latest Blog Posts

Research by Ambrose and colleagues confirms the psychological benefits of gardening and supports the allocation of space to it.  The investigators studied data collected in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area: “five measures of EWB [emotional wellbeing] were computed for each participant for each activity type [while doing that activity]: average net affect, average happiness, average meaningfulness, the frequency of experiencing peak positive emotions (happiness and meaningfulness). Among all three average EWB measures, gardening is among the top 5 out of 15 activities assessed, and, is not statistically different from biking, walking and eating out. All four of these activities fall behind other leisure/recreation activities, which ranks first. . . . Average net affect of gardening was significantly higher for vegetable gardeners (vs ornamental), for low-income gardeners (vs higher income) and for women. . . . household vegetable gardening should be considered amongst other livability investments, such as biking and walking infrastructure, in cities. Additionally, backyard gardening alone may provide EWB benefits similar to the purported EWB benefits of community gardens, thus both should be considered as cities address livability investments.”

Graham Ambrose, Kirti Das, Yingling Fan, and Anu Ramaswami.  2020.  “Is Gardening Associated with Greater Happiness of Urban Residents?  A Multi-Activity, Dynamic Assessment in the Twin-Cities Region, USA.”  Landscape and Urban Planning, vol. 198, no. 103776,

Knight, Agnihotri, Chan, and Hedaoo determined that we can correctly infer a robot’s personality based on the way that it moves.  The team’s work focused on a robot vacuum cleaners and found that with no knowledge of the planned-in, “intended” robot personalities “people can correctly infer a robot’s personality solely by how it moves. . . . study participants also discerned intelligence from robot motion behaviors. . . . robot personality can influence engagement and trust. . . . [researchers] equipped a Neato Botvac vacuum cleaning robot with movement patterns inspired by the personalities of Happy, Sleepy and Grumpy [from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs]. . . . ‘The Happy robot sought people out with smooth motions at moderate speed. The Sleepy robot also sought people out, but with delays and slower accelerations. The Grumpy robot avoided people while using erratic motions and a range of velocities’ [quote attributed to Knight]. . . . participants rated Grumpy as the least polite and least friendly, whereas Happy upheld reputation by being rated the friendliest and smartest. Happy and Sleepy were together deemed most polite, though their rating was just above neutral.”

“Robot Vacuum Cleaner Conveys Seven Dwarf Personalities By Movement Alone.”  2020.  Press release, Oregon State University,

Clements and colleagues studied the implications of having aquariums present in a space, either live or on video. After a literature review they report that “Nineteen studies were included [in their analysis]. Two provided tentative evidence that keeping home aquaria is associated with relaxation. The remaining studies involved novel interactions with fish in home or public aquariums. Outcomes relating to anxiety, relaxation and/or physiological stress were commonly assessed; evidence was mixed with both positive and null [no relationship] findings.  Preliminary support was found for effects on mood, pain, nutritional intake and body weight, but not loneliness.  . . .Review findings suggest that interacting with fish in aquariums has the potential to benefit human well-being, although research on this topic is currently limited.”

Heather Clements, Stephanie Valentin, Nicholas Jenkins, Jean Rankin, Julien Baker, Nancy Fee, Donna Snellgrove, and Katherine Sloman.  2019. “The Effects of Interacting with Fish in Aquariums on Human Health and Well-Being:  A Systematic Review.”  PLoS ONE, vol. 14, no. 7, e0220524,

Xiong, Fan, and Qi studied how well people sleep while staying in hotels; probable guest sleep quality has a significant influence on hotel design decisions.  The researchers determined via a questionnaire distributed to people who had recently spent the night at a hotel that “Assessment of . . . the sleep environment. . . . comprised 12 items, which asked about noise insulation effectiveness, ventilation, bedding (mattress, pillow, etc.), room temperature, light, sleeping state of people in the same room, hotel service level, distance from airport or highway, hotel facilities, color scheme of the room, neighborhood environment, and green space. . . .  hotel characteristics have a positive relationship with sleep experience. . . . hotels need to provide a comfortable sleeping environment and improve service quality. . . . With the development of virtual reality and augmented reality or similar technologies . . . hotels may be able to enhance rooms with the use of digital soundproofing, auto-massage de-stress pillows, and virtual lighting selection.”

Wei Xiong, Fang Fan, and Haiying Qi. 2020.”Effects of Environmental Change on Travelers’ Sleep Health:  Identifying Risk and Protective Factors.”  Frontiers in Psychology,

Guo, Courtney, and Fischer collected information that confirms how interrelated our sensory experiences are.  The team found that “physical properties are not always readily observable, and we often must rely on our knowledge of attributes such as weight, hardness, and slipperiness to guide our actions on familiar objects. . . . In a series of four visual search experiments, participants viewed arrays of everyday objects and were tasked with locating a specified object. The target was sometimes differentiated from the distractors based on its hardness, while a host of other visual and semantic attributes were controlled. We found that observers implicitly used the hardness distinction to locate the target more quickly, even though none reported being aware that hardness was relevant. . . .  Our findings show that observers implicitly recruit their knowledge of objects’ physical properties to guide how they attend to and engage with visual scenes.” So, nonvisual aspects of an object influence purely visual searches for it.

Li Guo, Susan Courtney, and Jason Fischer.  “Knowledge of Objects’ Physical Properties Implicitly Guides Attention During Visual Search.”  Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, in press,

Jellema, Annemans, and Heylighen studied the experiences of patients and their relatives and caregivers at cancer care facilities via a series of interviews. They report that their research probes “the roles cancer care facilities play in the well-being of patients, relatives, and care professionals, and identifies spatial aspects contributing to these roles. . . .  Cancer care facilities turn out to play a vital role by containing and mediating the confrontation with cancer. This requires attention for boundaries, routes, and transitions. Moreover, cancer care facilities can support coping by offering experiences of efficiency and normality, and opportunities to distance oneself from features typical of hospitals. . . . Attention should be paid to the sensory qualities and atmosphere at points of entrance. All users would benefit from improved spatial organization, ‘homelike’ qualities in designated spaces, and increased awareness of options to use spaces flexibly while ensuring a sense of spatial stability.”

Pleuntje Jellema, Margo Annemans, and Ann Heylighen.   2020.  “The Role of Cancer Care Facilities in Users’ Well-Being.”  Building Research and Information, vo. 48, no. 3, pp. 254-268,

Row, Kim, and Nam used a novel approach to design smart cars.  As they report, their “research was based on a petmorphic design approach, which defines design attributes assuming an intelligent device can interact like a pet dog. . . . we present a set of pet-dog behavioral traits (PBT) and their application in enhancing emotional interaction in smart cars. Firstly, using an interview-based explorative study, we identified key pet-dog characteristics that elicit affection in owners and four PBTs that could be used to design smart car interactions: self-expression, empathy, faithfulness and innocence. Secondly, we conducted an online survey-based study to examine how PBTs can be incorporated into smart cars for different scenarios. The results indicated that faithfulness was typically preferred in routine scenarios while traits associated with innocence were less preferred.”

Yea-Kyung Row, Se-Young Kim, and Tek-Jin Nam.  2020.  “Using Pet-Dog Behavior Traits to Enhance the Emotional Experience of In-Car Interaction.” International Journal f Design, vol. 14, no. 1,

Pachilova and Sailerused Space Syntax to study hospital ward design.  They report that “new research suggests that good face-to-face communication between doctors and nurses crucially impacts the health and safety of patients. . . . [the] Spaces for Communication Index (SCI). . . . assesses communication opportunities. . . . .[NHS wards were] analysed with the Space Syntax method, which investigated the size of visual fields of healthcare workers on everyday movement paths through the ward. Large viewsheds provide good visibility and awareness of the environment. As a result, they accrue more communication opportunities by virtue of the layout. . . . Results showed that the higher the index, the better the quality of care. . . . In terms of design, these results highlight the importance of the openness of spaces that healthcare workers traverse to get from one key area to another.”

Rosica Pachilova and Kerstin Sailer.  2020.  “Providing Care Quality By Design:  A New Measure to Assess Hospital Ward Layouts.”  The Journal of Architecture, vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 186-202,

Researchers used scents to enhance nurses' at-work experiences.  A team lead by Reven determined that “aromatherapy may reduce nurses’ on-the-job feelings of stress, anxiety, exhaustion and being overwhelmed. . . . In an eight-week study, [Reven] and her colleagues . . . provided aromatherapy patches to 19 nurses who worked at the Infusion Center at the WVU Cancer Institute.   The nurses affixed the patches to the badges they wore on lanyards around their necks. The patches were infused with a citrusy blend of essential oils: lemon, orange, mandarin, pink grapefruit, lemongrass, lime and peppermint. . . . participants wore aromatherapy patches on their ID badges for four-to-eight-hour stretches, on eight separate occasions, while working at the infusion center. . . . The researchers found that participants felt significantly less stressed, anxious, fatigued and overwhelmed after wearing the aromatherapy patches. The levels of anxiety and fatigue they reported fell by 40 percent, and their stress levels and feelings of being overwhelmed decreased by half.”

“Aromatherapy May Reduce Nurses’ Stress, WVU Researcher Suggests.”  2020.  Press release, West Virginia University,

Melumad and Meyer, in an article published in the Journal of Marketing, detail how smart phones influence our willingness to provide personal information about ourselves.  The researchers determined that “people are more willing to reveal personal information about themselves online using their smartphones compared to desktop computers. . . . Melumad explains that ‘Writing on one’s smartphone often lowers the barriers to revealing certain types of sensitive information for two reasons. . . .’ First, one of the most distinguishing features of phones is the small size; something that makes viewing and creating content generally more difficult compared with desktop computers. . . . when writing or responding on a smartphone, a person tends to narrowly focus on completing the task and become less cognizant of external factors that would normally inhibit self-disclosure. . . . The second reason people tend to be more self-disclosing on their phones lies in the feelings of comfort and familiarity people associate with their phones.”   

Matt Weingarden.  “Press Release from the Journal of Marketing:  Why Smartphones Are Digital Truth Serum.”  Press release, Journal of Marketing,


Subscribe to Latest Blog Posts