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Koo and teammates researched how design can enhance walkability.  They share that “The built environment characteristics associated with walkability range from neighborhood-level urban form factors to street-level urban design factors. . . . . This paper uses computer vision to quantify street-level factors from street view images in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Correlation analysis shows that some streetscape factors are highly correlated with neighborhood-level factors. . . .  [additional analyses] indicate that the streetscape factors can significantly contribute to explaining walking mode choice and that streetscape factors can have a greater association with walking mode choice than neighborhood-level factors. A potential explanation for the result is that the image-based streetscape factors may perform as proxies for some macroscale factors while representing the pedestrian experience as seen from eye-level.”

Bon Woo Koo, Subhrajit Guhathakurta, and Nisha Botchway.  “How Are Neighborhood and Street-Level Walkability Factors Associated with Walking Behaviors?  A Big Data Approach Using Street View Images.”  Environment and Behavior, in press,

A study published in the Journal of Marketing, written by Keh, Wang, and Yan, reports on effective retail display design; its findings are likely applicable more generally by retail designers.  The Keh-lead team shares that “Imaginative displays are constructed using multiple units of the same product in a novel, yet aesthetically appealing, form. . . . relative to standard displays (i.e., non-novel and neutral aesthetics), imaginative displays can increase customers’ purchase intention, actual purchases, product sales, and ROI. . . . a themed imaginative display leads customers to infer benefits from the display, which increases their purchase behavior.  . . . This effect applies to both familiar and less familiar brands. . . .   For a themed imaginative display (i.e., has a particular shape mimicking an object), the retailer should ensure that the display form is congruent with the perceived product benefit to increase purchase behavior.  Incongruence between display form and product benefit would backfire.”

“Press Release from the Journal of Marketing:  Gimmicky or Effective?  The Effects of Imaginative Displays on Customers’ Purchase Behavior.” 2021.  Press release, American Marketing Association (press release by Matt Weingarden),

Architectural researchers have found that when robots doing utilitarian tasks, such as removing garbage or moving equipment, talk and, specifically, when they speak with the local accent of wherever they are, that people who see and hear them at work may be more accepting of new technologies in their lives.  The robots with the local accents studied were boxy, they did not have human-like forms. A press release related to the study (lead by Soraa) shares that architectural researchers “were interested in how people adjusted to, used, got around and were affected by the hospital’s architecture. . . . The researchers followed health care staff, patients and visitors on their routes in the hospital, and asked them questions about why they moved the way that they did, where they were headed, and how they felt at the time. . . . the [robots] kept turning up as a part of the conversation. . . . ‘These service robots were not created to be social robots,’ Soraa said. . . . And yet people still tend to socialize with them and find social qualities in them.’  This matters Soraa said, because it helps people accept the robots, and through that acceptance, other technologies that are coming our way are not seen as too alien.”

“An Automated Box on Wheels – With Personality.”  2021. Norwegian SciTech News (press release by Nancy Bazilchuk),

Casiraghi and colleagues’ work indicates how tightly the experiences of all humans are tied to stimuli in the natural world.  The researchers used “wrist actimetry to show a clear synchronization of nocturnal sleep timing with the lunar cycle in participants living in environments that range from a rural setting with and without access to electricity in indigenous Toba/Qom communities in Argentina to a highly urbanized postindustrial setting in the United States.  Our results show that sleep starts later and is shorter on the nights before the full moon when moonlight is available during the hours following dusk.  Our data suggest that moonlight likely stimulated nocturnal activity and inhibited sleep in preindustrial communities and that access to artificial light may emulate the ancestral effect of early-night moonlight.”

Leandro Casiraghi, Ignacio Spiousas, Gideon Dunster, Kaitlyn McGlothlen, Eduardo Fernandez-Duque, Claudia Valeggia, and Horacio de la Iglesia.  2021.  “Moonstruck Sleep: Synchronization of Human Sleep with the Moon Cycle Under Field Conditions.”  Science Advances, vol. 7, no. 5, eabe0465, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abe0465

Research by Syrjanen and colleagues, linking responses to faces and odors smelled while evaluating them, can likely to applied in additional contexts.  The investigators found via a literature review that “Generally, the results indicate that facial expressions are classified more rapidly in the context of odors. Apart from a few studies that show face-odor valence congruency effects, the most consistent finding is that valenced odors affect perceived face valence overall (e.g., faces are perceived as more unpleasant in an unpleasant odor condition).”

Elmeri Syrjanen, Hakan Fischer, Marco Liuzza, Torun Lindhom, and Jonas Olofsson. 2021.  “A Review of the Effects of Valenced Odors on Face Perception and Evaluation.”  I-Perception, vol. 12, no. 2,

Pink drinks seem to have particularly powerful effects on our physical performance.  Researchers from the University of Westminster have found that “pink drinks can help to make you run faster and further compared to clear drinks. . . . a pink drink can increase exercise performance by 4.4 per cent and can also increase a ‘feel good’ effect which can make exercise seem easier.”All drinks evaluated were exactly the same except for their color. This study is published in Frontiers in Nutrition.  

“Pink Drinks Can Help You Run Faster and Further, Study Finds.”  Press release, University of Westminster,

Ruta and colleagues probe humans’ positive feelings toward curved things.  They report that “Preference for curvature has been demonstrated using many types of stimuli, but it remains an open question whether curvature plays a relevant role in responses to original artworks. To investigate this, a novel set of paintings was created, consisting of 3 variations—curved, sharp-angled, and mixed—of the same 16 indeterminate subjects. . . . participants assigned higher ratings to the curved compared to the sharp-angled version of the paintings. Similarly, when participants were explicitly asked if they wanted to take the paintings home, they assigned higher wanting ratings to the curved version. . . . However, when they were asked to act as a curator and select works they wanted for their gallery . . . no significant difference was found between the 3 sets of paintings.”

Nicole Ruta, Javier Vano, Robert Pepperell, Guido Corradi, Erick Chuquichambi, Carlos Rey, and Enric Munar. “Preference for Paintings Is Also Affected by Curvature.”  Psychology of Aesthetics Creativity and the Arts, in press,

New research confirms the desirable effects of parks on wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic.  A press release from Drexel, discussing a study published in the Journal of Extreme Events (written by Montalto, Alizadehtazi,  Tangtrakul, Woerdeman, Gussenhoven, and Mostafavi) reports that “Parks played an important role for people seeking respite from the toll of social isolation during the pandemic, and according to new research from Drexel University, they did so without increasing the spread of COVID-19. The study looked at how people used 22 parks in Philadelphia and New York during the height of the pandemic and it found no strong correlation between park use and the number of confirmed cases in surrounding neighborhoods.

“Study Parks Not Only Safe, But Essential During the Pandemic.”  2021.  Press release, Drexel University,

Walshe and Moula confirm that children (age 7 and 8) link nature to positive experiences; the Walshe/Moula study is published in Child Indicators Research.  The research duo determined that “Young children in deprived areas see nature and outdoor spaces as being associated with “happy places”. . . . [the researchers asked study participants] to draw their happy place. . . .  More than half of the children created drawings that included aspects of nature and outdoor spaces, such as trees, grass, parks, gardens, lakes, rivers, outdoor playgrounds, rainbows or sunlight. Trees, in particular, were drawn by a third of the children. However, the study found the elements of nature mainly existed in the background of the drawings. Other aspects of wellbeing, such as a sense of safety, positive relationships with family and friends, and the need for love and happiness, were more explicit in the pictures.”

“Nature Draws Out a Happy Place for Children.”  2021. Press release, Anglia Ruskin University,

Sidhu and colleagues have 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,


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