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Kim and colleagues evaluated the effects of a open-plan workplace redesign project on the environmental satisfaction of the people working in the space.  Data were collected via objective measures of physical conditions and an online survey.  The team report that one floor in a multi-floor office building in Seattle was renovated: “Changes were made to the floor’s layout, and to the size of employees’ workspaces.  New sound-masking technology and a modern lighting framework were added. . . . After the new space had been used for 1.5 months, occupants reported being more satisfied, in general, than they recalled being in the original setting.  The size of personal workspaces and a sense of privacy were especially important to employees.  Despite overhead lighting illuminance levels being below recommended industry standards, occupants were not dissatisfied with light levels. . . . . occupants’ responses about the level of input they had into the retrofit process correlated significantly and positively with their perceptions of environmental satisfaction after its completion.”

Amy Kim, Shuoqi Wang, Lindsay McCunn, and Hessam Sadatsafavi.  “Impact of Office Modernization on Environmental Satisfaction: A Naturalistic Field Study.”  Frontiers in Built Environment, in press, doi:  10.3389/fbuil.2020.00058

The Lighting Research Center (LRC:  Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) is making available, at the YouTube address noted below, a short tutorial on the best lighting for at-home video conferences; the insights shared by this prestigious research team are also applicable in conference rooms at employer owned/managed facilities.  As the LRC team shares “Whether you are taking part in a virtual meeting with colleagues, participating in a job interview, or giving a presentation, you want to make sure that you look your best, and that people can clearly understand you. The Lighting Research Center (LRC) has released a new video on how to show yourself in the best light when video conferencing from home.”

Gill evaluated links between judgments of morality and automation.  He reports that “Building on recent work on AV [autonomous vehicle/car] morality, the current research examined how people resolve the dilemma between protecting self versus a pedestrian, and what they expect an AV to do in a similar situation. Five studies revealed that participants considered harm to a pedestrian more permissible with an AV as compared to self as the decision agent in a regular car. This shift in moral judgments was driven by the attribution of responsibility to the AV and was observed for both severe and moderate harm, and when harm was real or imagined. However, the effect was attenuated [reduced] when five pedestrians or a child could be harmed. These findings suggest that AVs can change prevailing moral norms and promote an increased self-interest among consumers. This has relevance for the design and policy issues related to AVs.”

Tripat Gill.  “Blame It on the Self-Driving Car:  How Autonomous Vehicles Can Alter Consumer Morality.”  Journal of Consumer Research, in press,

Virtanen and colleagues investigated the criteria used to evaluate image quality.  They report that “Various image elements, such as sharpness or naturalness, can impact how observers view images and, more directly, how they evaluate their quality. . . . we conducted a study with a large set of images with multiple overlapping distortions, covering a wide range of quality variation. Observers assigned a quality rating of the images on a 0–10 scale and gave a verbal description explaining the elements on which their rating was based. . . . Brightness, naturalness, and good colors seem to be related to the highest image quality preference. However, the most important elements for predicting good image quality were related to image fidelity such as graininess and sharpness. This indicates that a certain level of image fidelity must be achieved before more subjective associations with, for instance, naturalness can emerge.”

Toni Virtanen, Mikko Nuutinen, and Jukka Hakkinen.  “Underlying Elements of Image Quality Assessment:  Preference and Terminology for Communicating Image Quality Characteristics.”  Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts, in press,

Recent research by Gao, Fillmore, and  Scullin confirms the value of repeated exposure to the same stimuli during the learning process;  it also validates the powerful links between memories and sensory stimuli and the fact that linked memories can be reactivated when stimuli are repeated. The team reports on research related to targeting reactivation of memories (TMR) during sleep: “undergraduate students completed a college-level microeconomics lecture (mathematics-based) while listening to distinctive classical music (Chopin, Beethoven, and Vivaldi). After they fell asleep, we re-played the classical music songs (TMR) or a control noise [white noise] during slow wave sleep. Relative to the control condition, the TMR condition showed an 18% improvement for knowledge transfer items that measured concept integration . . . increasing the probability of ‘passing’ the test with a grade of 70 or above. . . . The benefits of TMR did not extend to a 9-month follow-up test when performance dropped to floor levels, demonstrating that long-term-forgetting curves are largely resistant to experimentally-consolidated memories.” Classical music (quietly) played was the first movement of the “Moonlight” piano Sonata by Beethoven, the first movement of the “Spring” violin concerto by Vivaldi, and Nocturne in E-Flat Major, Op. 9, No. 2 by Chopin.

Chenlu Gao, Paul Fillmore, and Michael Scullin. “Classical Music, Educational Learning, and Slow Wave Sleep:  A Targeted Memory Reactivation Experiment.”  Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, in press,

Yamim, Mai, and Werle investigated the affects of the temperature of food being eaten on judgments made about that food; future studies indicating the potential generalizability of their findings may lead to intriguing applications of their work. The researchers report that “This research proposes that consumers spontaneously infer that warm foods contain more calories, an unexplored lay belief we named the ‘warm is calorie-rich’intuition. Eight studies reveal that this deep-seated intuition has powerful implications in terms of guiding (and often biasing) product judgments and consumption decisions. . . . The preference for warm products is mitigated [reduced] when food energy does not provide utility to consumers though, such as when consumers have a health goal active, and it reverses when consumers purposefully aim to reduce their calorie intake. The “warm is calorie-rich” intuition is important for marketers and managers because warm food temperatures can increase willingness to pay (by 25%) and amount served (+27%), as well as influence consumer preferences. This intuition also has important public policy implications: Consumers tend to underestimate the nutritional value of cold foods, resulting in increased consumption of calories (+31%) and fat (+37%).”

Amanda Yamim, Robert Mai, and Carolina Werle.  “Make it Hot? How Food Temperature (Mis)Guides Product Judgments.”  Journal of Consumer Research, in press,

Zwebner and Schrift report on the repercussions of being in view of others while making decisions.  They share that “The present work . . . .[investigates] how consumers react to being observed during the preference-construction stage (i.e., prior to reaching their decision). . . . eight studies . . . find that being observed prior to reaching the decision threatens consumers’ sense of autonomy in making the decision, resulting in an aversion to being observed. Further, we find that such threats lead consumers to terminate their decision by avoiding purchase or by choosing default options. Given the extent to which consumers are observed in the marketplace by other individuals and by online platforms, and given the rise in consumers’ privacy concerns associated with such practices, understanding consumer reactions to being observed in the pre-decisional stage is an important topic with practical implications.”

Yonat Zwebner and Rom Schrift. “On My Own:  The Aversion to Being Observed During the Preference-Construction Stage.  Journal of Consumer Research, in press,

Cho and Suh studied the implications of use of combinations of particular colors in retail environments.  They report that “An environment simulating a hypothetical retail store was developed using a 3D rendering program. . . . When viewing the images, participants were asked to identify which images looked most luxurious. . . . dark colors used in large amounts of surface were perceived as more luxurious than light colors. . . ..  When a relatively large amount of the space is filled with a darker hue, particularly on the floor or main walls, the perceived level of luxury tends to be high. A large amount of space in a dark color is likely to enhance the perception of luxury."

Ji Cho and Joori Suh.  2020.  “Spatial Color Efficacy in Perceived Luxury and Preference to Stay:  An Eye-Tracking Study of Retail Interior Environment.” Frontiers in Psychology

Particular pavement types can increase the probability of flooding.  Blum lead a team that found that “for every percentage point increase of roads, parking lots, and other impervious surfaces, annual floods increase on average by 3.3%. This means that if an undeveloped river basin increases the amount of impervious surfaces from zero to 10%, scientists would expect, on average, a 33% increase in annual flooding. . . . While previous studies have tried to estimate how much impervious surfaces affect flooding, those studies used smaller datasets—looking at only one stream or a small set of streams at a single point in time—that weren't generalizable across the country.  These studies also couldn't isolate the cause-and-effect relationship between impervious surfaces and flood magnitude, Blum says, because they couldn't effectively control for other factors such as climate, dams, and land use. These other factors make it difficult to say how more impervious cover impacts flood magnitude.” This study was published in Geophysical Research Letters.

“More Pavement, More Problems.”  2020.  Press release, Johns Hopkins University(Chanapa Tantibanchachai),

How interior environments influence virus spread was investigated by Iwasaki, Moriyama, and Hugentobler.  The researchers report that “seasonal moderation of relative humidity — the difference between outside humidity and temperatures and indoor humidity — could be an ally in slowing rates of viral transmission. (Viruses could still be transmitted through direct contact or through contaminated surfaces as humidity rises.) . . . there is a sweet spot in relative humidity for indoor environments, the review found. Mice in environments of between 40% and 60% relative humidity show substantially less ability to transmit viruses to non-infected mice than those in environments of low or high relative humidity. Mice kept at 50% relative humidity were also able to clear an inhaled virus and mount robust immune responses.”

“Hopes of Pandemic Respite This Spring May Depend Upon What Happens Indoors.”  2020. Press release, Yale University (Bill Hathaway),


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