Latest Blog Posts
A large team lead by Jackson determined that languages vary in how they link emotions; their findings may be useful to people conducting research in different parts of the world, for example. The group studied 24 terms for emotions in thousands of spoken languages, and report that “Many human languages have words for emotions such as ‘anger’ and ‘fear,’ yet it is not clear whether these emotions have similar meanings across languages, or why their meanings might vary. We estimate emotion semantics across a sample of 2474 spoken languages using ‘colexification’—a phenomenon in which languages name semantically related concepts with the same word. Analyses show significant variation in networks of emotion concept colexification, which is predicted by the geographic proximity of language families. We also find evidence of universal structure in emotion colexification networks, with all families differentiating emotions primarily on the basis of hedonic valence [positive or negative] and physiological activation. Our findings contribute to debates about universality and diversity in how humans understand and experience emotion.” So, in short, the Jackson team looked at how concepts such as happiness or love are related in different languages. They determined that in Persian the same word is used to convey grief and regret, for example, and that it some dialects spoken in Russia the same word expresses both grief and anxiety. In some languages spoken in Russia anger was linked to envy but in some Austronesian ones it was tied to terms such as hate, and bad, and proud. These findings indicate that emotional universals may not be as prevalent as cross-cultural researchers would find useful, although there clearly are some consistencies regarding emotions across groups.
Joshua Jackson, Joseph Watts, Teague Henry, Johann-Mattis List, Robert Forkel, Peter Mucha, Simon Greenhill, Russell Gray, and Kristen Lindquist. 2019. “Emotion Semantics Show Both Cultural Variation and Universal Structure.” Science, vol. 366, no. 6472, pp. 1517-1522, DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw8160
Recently completed research indicates that potential users of bike sharing services are not willing to walk much to pick up that shared bike. Girotra, Belavina, and Kabra determined that “Even a relatively short walk to find the nearest bicycle is enough to deter many potential users of bike sharing systems. . . . outside of a few big stations at major transit hubs, cities and bike-share operators should strive to create denser networks with many smaller stations . . . and keep them stocked.. . . . someone roughly 300 meters (nearly 1,000 feet) from a docking station is 60% less likely to use the service than someone very near the station. The odds decrease slightly with every additional meter, such that someone 500 meters away – about one-third of a mile – is ‘highly unlikely to use the system.’ But a 10% increase in bike availability – the likelihood of finding a bicycle at a station – would grow ridership by roughly 12%. . . . placing stations near grocery stores provides the most benefit.” This bike sharing-related study is published in Management Science.
James Dean. 2020. “If It Takes a Hike, Riders Won’t Go for Bike Sharing.” Press release, Cornell University/ Cornell Chronicle, http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2020/01/if-it-takes-hike-riders-wont-go-bike-sharing
Qi lead a research team that confirmed that having others nearby can be desirable in many stressful situations. In areas where people will have stressful experiences, at least some seats, according to the Qi team, should allow people to see others in the same space. Qi and colleagues report that “In our study, participants experienced aversive and neutral sounds alone (alone treatment) or with an unknown person that was physically present without providing active support [there was no social or physical interaction]. The present person was a member of the participants' ethnical group (ingroup treatment) or a different ethnical group (outgroup treatment). . . . We measured skin conductance responses (SCRs) and collected subjective similarity and affect ratings. The mere presence of an ingroup or outgroup person significantly reduced SCRs to the aversive sounds compared with the alone condition, in particular in participants with high situational anxiety. . . . Our results indicate that the mere presence of another person was sufficient to diminish autonomic responses to aversive events in humans.” All study participants were women and they were assessed in the “mere presence” of other women.
Yanyan Qi, Martin Hermann, Luisa Bell, Anna Fackler, Shihui Han, Jurgen Deckert, and Grit Hein. 2020. “The Mere Physical Presence of Another Person Reduces Human Autonomic Responses to Aversive Sounds.” Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Biological Studies, vol. 287, no. 1919, https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2019.2241
New research confirms that scents we smell as we learn and sleep influence our cognitive performance. Neumann, Oberhauser, and Kornmeier conducted a field study with sixth graders anddetermined that when people smelled the same scent when learning material and later while sleeping (scent was present all night) that they remembered the learned material better after waking up. The scent used by researchers was of roses.
Franziska Neumann, Vitus Oberhauser, and Jorgen Kornmeier. 2020. “How Odor Cues Help to Optimize Learning During Sleep in a Real Life-Setting.” Scientific Reports, vol. 10, no. 1227, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-57613-7
A study published in the medical journal The Lancet links urban design to road transport injuries. Thompson lead a study during which “1692 cities capturing one third of the world's population were classified into types based on urban design characteristics. . . . road transport injury was an estimated two-times higher . . . for the poorest performing city type compared with the best performing city type, culminating in an estimated loss of 8·71 (8·08–9·25) million disability-adjusted life-years per year attributable to suboptimal urban design. City types that featured a greater proportion of railed public transport networks combined with dense road networks characterised by smaller blocks showed the lowest rates of road traffic injury. . . . It is recommended that road and transport safety efforts promote urban design that features characteristics inherent in identified high-performance city types including higher density road infrastructure and high rates of public transit.”
Jason Thompson, Mark Stevenson, and Jasper Wijnands, and 8 others. 2020. “A Global Analysis of Urban Design Types and Road Transport Injury: An Image Processing Study.” The Lancet, https://doi.org/10.1016/S2542-5196%2819%2930263-3
McFarlane and colleagues have investigated, via an online survey, the sorts of sounds that alarms to wake people up can make and the repercussions of awakening to various sounds. Their findings are generally relevant to people working on creating sounds that alert listeners. The McFarlane-lead team reports that “Sleep inertia is a potentially dangerous reduction in human alertness and occurs 0–4 hours after waking. . . . The goal of this research is to understand how a particular sound or music chosen to assist waking may counteract sleep inertia. . . . Our results did not return any significant association between sleep inertia and the reported waking sound type, nor the subject’s feeling towards their sound. However, the analysis did reveal that a sound which is ranked as melodic by participants shows a significant relationship to reports of reductions in perceived sleep inertia, and in contrast, sound rated as neutral (neither unmelodic nor melodic) returns a significant relationship to the reports of increases in perceived sleep inertia. Additionally, our secondary analysis revealed that a sound rated as melodic is considered to be more rhythmic than a melodically neutral interpretation.” Sleep inertia could be described as grogginess.
Stuart McFarlane, Jair Garcia, Darrin Verhagen, and Adrian Dyer. 2020. “Alarm Tones, Music and Their Elements: Analysis of Reported Waking Sounds to Counteract Sleep Inertia.” PLoS ONE, vo. 15, no. 1, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0215788
People in virtual reality environments regularly teleport from place to place and a team lead by Cherep studied how those movements should take place. The researchers report that “When teleporting, the user positions a marker in the virtual environment and is instantly transported without any self-motion cues. . . . [for the Cherep-lead study] Locomotion was accomplished via walking or 2 common implementations of the teleporting interface distinguished by the concordance between movement of the body and movement through the virtual environment. In the partially concordant teleporting interface, participants teleported to translate (change position) but turned the body to rotate. In the discordant teleporting interface, participants teleported to translate and rotate. . . . discordant teleporting produced larger errors than partially concordant teleporting which produced larger errors than walking, reflecting the importance of translational and rotational self-motion cues. Furthermore, geometric boundaries (room walls or a fence) were necessary to mitigate [diminish] the spatial cognitive costs associated with teleporting, and landmarks were helpful only in the context of a geometric boundary.”
Lucia Cherep, Alex Lim, Jonathan Kelly, Devi Acharya, Alfredo Velasco, Emanuel Bustamante, Alec Ostrander, and Stephen Gilbert. “Spatial Cognitive Implications of Teleporting Through Virtual Environments.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, https://doi.org/10.1037/xap0000263
Meneghetti lead a team that tied wayfinding strategies to personality; these findings are especially useful when the personality profile of probable space users is available. The researchers “examine[d] the relationship between people’s self-reported wayfinding inclinations, their preference for certain navigation aids (maps vs. GPS vs. verbal directions), and their personality traits. . . . . Conscientiousness and Openness were correlated with a preference for map use, and Agreeableness with a preference for verbal directions.” Additional information on conscientiousness, openness, and agreeableness is available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Five_personality_traits
Chiara Meneghetti, Francesco Grimaldi, Massimo Nucci, and Francesca Pazzaglia. 2020. “Positive and Negative Wayfinding Inclinations, Choice of Navigation Aids, and How They Relate to Personality Traits.” Journal of Individual Differences, vol. 41, no. 1, pp. 45-52, https://doi.org/10.1027/1614-0001/a000302
Kaaronen and Strelkovskii investigated how design can encourage sustainable behavior. Their study probed how “changes in opportunities to behave sustainably – such as increases in the number of bicycle lanes in a city – affect the adoption of sustainable behaviors like cycling. The researchers used Copenhagen, a city known for its well-developed cycling culture, as a case study. The model was empirically validated by modeling the evolution of cycling and driving patterns in the city.The results show that even linear increases in opportunities for pro-environmental behaviors – in Copenhagen’s case, adding more bicycle friendly infrastructure – can have much larger effects on the adoption of sustainable behaviors than often assumed. This is because when the environment makes it easier for someone to adopt a certain behavior, this not only has an effect on the individual’s own habits, but the behavior can also be copied and learned by others.”
“Increasing Opportunities for Sustainable Behavior.” 2020. Press release, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, https://iiasa.ac.at/web/home/about/news/200124-sustainable-bahavior.html
Recent research indicates that even fonts may have political associations. Haenschen and Tamul learned that “individuals perceive fonts to have liberal or conservative leanings. The more people view a font as aligned with their ideology, the more they favor it. Fonts that fall under the serif category — ones festooned with a small line or stroke — are viewed as more conservative than fonts in the sans serif group, though differences exist within font families.” Typefaces studied by the researchers included serif ones (Times New Roman and Jubilat) and some that were sans serif (Gill Sans and Century Gothic).
“Votes May Perceive Fonts in Campaign Communications to Have Liberal or Conservative Leanings.” 2020 Press release, Virginia Tech, https://vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2020/01/clahs-political-ideology-and-font...