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Blut and Iyer investigated the implications of retail crowding.  They determined via a meta-analysis of previously published studies that spatial crowding, which is tied to the physical features of a space, such as the space available to a person and the form of that space, degrades store evaluations while human crowding, or the perceived number of people in a store and impressions of the interactions of those people, enhances those assessments: “Managers should also examine if their retail or service setting is perceived as hedonic [pleasure-related], and whether attracting more customers into their store would have positive impacts on customer responses. . . . Some retail types, such as those with predominantly utilitarian offerings (e.g., grocery stores) benefit less from human crowding. . . . greater use of in-store technologies (self-service checkouts, robotic assistance) to ease checkout and exiting the store may alleviate crowding perceptions. . . . impacts of crowding on some outcomes are affected by whether the environment is perceived as competitive or cooperative, retailers could encourage greater interactions between customers to create a more cooperative environment. An example of the latter is seating arrangements in neighborhood coffee shops and diners where proximity may foster a cooperative environment.”

Markus Blut and Gopalkrishnan Iyer. “Consequences of Perceived Crowding: A Meta-Analytical Perspective.”  Journal of Retailing, vol. 96, no. 3, pp. 362-382,

Chen and colleagues studied the nonverbal messages sent by package shapes; their findings are useful to designers more generally.  The Chen-lead team determined that “a tall, slender package creates the perception of higher brand status to a significantly greater extent than a short, wide package. Therefore, retailers in the high-end market can stock more products in tall, slender packages to communicate and enhance their positioning. . . . Retailers in the low-end market, on the other hand, face more complicated decisions. Should they stock more products in short, wide packages? On the one hand, consumers who are aware of the retailer’s economic positioning might still prefer a product they perceive to have a high brand status over one perceived to have a low brand status, all other things being equal. On the other hand, for new consumers who know little about the retailer, high perceived brand status may lead to a high estimation of product price, and turn price-sensitive consumers away.”

Huan Chen, Jun Pang, Minkyung Koo, and Vanessa Patrick.  2020. “Shape Matters:  Package Shape Informs Brand Status Categorization and Brand Choice.”  Journal of Retailing, vol. 96, no. 2, pp. 266-281,

What do we prefer to see when we look out the window at an urban area?  Batool, Rutherford, and McGraw found that “participants tend to prefer the presence of people, well-maintained buildings and orderly presented colours. . . . Views containing a variety of information, with colourful patterns and differentiated facades, were preferred more than those with less information. . . . windows not affording a clear vision to the inside – that is, where further information could not be obtained about the environment behind an opening – led to reduced preference. . . .  The presence of green and naturalistic elements, however small, in urban views may lead to higher preference ratings."

A.Batool, P. Rutherford, and P. McGraw.  “View Preference in Urban Environments.”  Lighting Research and Technology, in press,

Vasquez and colleagues studied children’s (their sample was kindergarteners, 3.5 – 6.6 years old) classroom design preferences. They determined that “young children can differentiate lighting needs according to the activity performed. Visual contact with the view seen through the classroom window was important to the children, with a higher preference for natural views. . . . the children preferred the classroom with open curtains. . . . most of the children enjoyed looking out of the window, without any difference related to gender or age. The main reason that made them look out of the classroom window was the possibility of seeing natural elements, mainly the sky.”  In their conclusion, the researchers suggest that kindergarten design can succeed by “incorporating green areas near the classroom windows, locating the project in surroundings that favor and stimulate children, placing openings that allow children to see outside, designing openings that allow access to natural light and control of direct radiation, and favoring the use of zenithal openings to ensure a homogeneous distribution of natural lighting.”

Natalia Vasquez, Maira Felippe, Fernando Pereira, and Ariane Kuhnen.  2019. “Luminous and Visual Preferences of Young Children in Their Classrooms:  Curtain Use, Artificial Lighting and Window Views.”  Building and Environment, vol. 152, pp. 59-73,

Recently completed research indicates how behaviors in a space are related to the general conditions people encounter there. Bergquist and colleagues set out to replicate a study done by a Cialdini-lead team in 1990.  When doing so they found “less littering in clean compared to littered environments [consistent with the Cialdini-lead research]. . . . littering increased rather than decreased by adding a single piece of litter in an otherwise clean environment [inconsistent with the Cialdini-lead research].”

M. Bergquist, P. Blumenschein, J. Kohler, E. Martins, Silva Ramos, J. Rodstrom, and E. Ejelov.”Replicating the Focus Theory of Normative Conduct as Tested by Cialdini et al. (1990) Study 2 and 3.”  Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press,

Ozkul, Bilgili, and Koc studied how the color of light used in a restaurant influences diner experience.  The researchers found when “five experiments were conducted in five ambient lighted in different colors. . . . the perception of service quality and the level of satisfaction were higher in red and yellow-lighted ambient than those in blue and green-lighted ambient.” Some technical details:  “Yellow, blue, red, and green lights were obtained by covering the surface of white bulbs with colored gelatin. . .  to have approximately 1000 lx standard per square meter, 25 bulbs were used for the green light, 28 bulbs for the red light, and 29 bulbs for the blue light.”

Emrah Ozkul, Bilsen Bilgili, and Erdogan Koc. 2020.  “The Influence of the Color of Light on the Customers’ Perception of Service Quality and Satisfaction in the Restaurant.” Color Research and Application, vol. 45, no. 6, pp. 1217-1240,

Barone, Coulter, and Li determined that where prices are marked (their vertical position) determines how that price is perceived. The researchers asked: “Can changing the vertical location of a price (e.g., presenting it above or below a product image in an advertisement or retail display) influence consumer response? . . .  several lab and field investigations [conducted by the Barone-lead team] demonstrate that prices provided in low (vs. high) locations lead to lower price perceptions, more favorable purchase intentions, and higher in-store sales. . . . such price location effects . . .  arise only among individuals who associate down with less and up with more. . . . low price locations can also induce consumers to perceive a product as being less costly without adversely affecting quality perceptions. . . . firms can improve consumer response simply by showing prices at the bottom (vs. top) of a focal product in a marketing stimulus.”

Michael Barone, Keith Coulter, and Xingbo Li. 2020.  “The Upside of Down:  Presenting a Price in a Low or High Location Influences How Consumers Evaluate it.”  Journal of Retailing, vol. 96, no. 3, pp. 397-410,

Tian, Chen, and Hu looked at appropriate levels of circadian stimulus (CS) by age.  They determined that “the effect of the CS increased with CCT from 4000 K to 8000 K at the same age as a general trend; however, the CCT of 2700 K shows a higher circadian impact compared to that of 4000 K for the same age groups. . . . In order to provide sufficient CS, the minimum corneal illuminance for children and elderly is 250 lx and 380 lx, respectively, when the CCT of the light source was 2700 K. The minimum corneal illuminance for children and elderly is 150 lx and 420 lx, respectively, when the CCT of the light source was 8000 K. In order to avoid activation of the circadian system, the maximum corneal illuminance for children and elderly is 30 lx and 48 lx, respectively, when the CCT of the light source is 2700 K. The maximum corneal illuminance for children and elderly is 36 lx and 145 lx, respectively, when the CCT of the light source is 4000 K.”  These findings can be used to develop lighting plans, for example.

H. Tian, T. Chen, and Y. Hu.  2021.  “Change of Circadian Effect with Colour Temperature and Eye Spectral Transmittance at Different Ages.”  Lighting Research and Technology, vol. 53, no. 1, pp. 41-53,

Finnish researchers studied how seasonal sunlight variations influence mood.  Their findings, published in The Journal of Neuroscience,are useful in a variety of contexts, for example, for better understanding research data collected.  The investigators report that “the length of daylight affects the opioid receptors, which in turn regulates the mood we experience. Seasons have an impact on our emotions and social life. Negative emotions are more subdued in the summer, whereas seasonal affective disorder rates peak during the darker winter months. Opioids regulate both mood and sociability in the brain. In the study conducted at the Turku PET Centre, Finland, researchers compared how the length of daylight hours affected the opioid receptors in humans and rats. . . . On the basis of the results, the duration of daylight is a particularly critical factor in the seasonal variation of opioid receptors.”

“Seasonal Variation in Daylight Influences Brain Function.”  2021.  Press release, University of Turku.

Research has shown that how human-like a robot appears to be influences how we think about what those robots do.  Researchers lead by Laakasuo determined that when “study participants read short narratives where either a robot, a somewhat humanoid robot known as iRobot, a robot with a strong humanoid appearance called iClooney or a human being encounters a moral problem along the lines of the trolley dilemma, making a specific decision. The participants were also shown images of these agents, after which they assessed the morality of their decisions. . . . The trolley dilemma is a problem where a person sees a trolley careening on the tracks, without anyone in control, towards five people. The person can either do nothing or turn the trolley onto another track, saving the five people but killing another individual on the other track. According to the study, people consider the choice made by the humanoid iRobot and iClooney less ethically sound than the same decision made by a human and a robot with a traditional robot-like appearance.”

Michael Laakasuo, Tuire Korvuo, and Niina Niskanen.  2021. “The Appearance of Robots Affects Our Perception of the Morality of Their Decisions.”  Press release, University of Helsinki,


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