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Sibrel and colleagues investigated how color influences perceptions of quantity.  They share that “Interpreting colormap visualizations requires determining how dimensions of color in visualizations map onto quantities in data. People have color-based biases that influence their interpretations of colormaps, such as a dark-is-more bias—darker colors map to larger quantities. Previous studies of color-based biases focused on colormaps with weak data spatial structure, but color-based biases may not generalize to colormaps with strong data spatial structure, like ‘hotspots’ typically found in weather maps and neuroimaging brain maps. There may be a hotspot-is-more bias to infer that colors within hotspots represent larger quantities, which may override the dark-is-more bias. We tested this possibility in four experiments. . . . in the presence of strong spatial cues to the locus of larger quantities, color-based biases still influenced interpretations of colormap data visualizations.”

Shannon Sibrel, Ragini Rathore, Laurent Lessard, and Karen Schloss.  2020. “The Relation Between Color and Spatial Structure for Interpreting Colormap Data Visualizations.”  Journal of Vision, vol. 20, no. 7,

Chen and Cabrera set out to better understand how color influences experiences in concert halls using virtual reality depictions of concert halls; select surfaces were one color or another, depending on the test condition.  They report that study participants rated “loudness, reverberance, and their visual and auditory preference for multiple virtual reality scenes of a concert hall with various colors and with a music excerpt of various levels of gain and reverberation time. Results show that color has little or no effect on loudness and reverberance compared to changing gain or reverberation time. However, color does affect visual and auditory preference. . . . Of the five colors tested, red is the most-liked color for the selected concert hall, followed by neutral [white], blue, and yellow, while green is the least liked color. The color preference is related to the commonly used color styles of existing halls. . . . For each [colored] element, the saturation and brightness values of the colors and the texture of the materials were constant between scenes, while only hue was changed (apart from the neutral scene, for which saturation was set to 0%).”

Yuxiao Chen and Densil Cabrera.  2021. “The Effect of Concert Hall Color on Preference and Auditory Perception.”  Applied Acoustics, vol. 171, 107544,

Wang and Chang link colors seen and tastes tasted.  They studied colors used on popcorn packaging and report that “Four experimental package design colors (red, blue, yellow, and white) and three popcorn tastes (sweet, salty, and tasteless) were used to evaluate whether the pretasting and posttasting evaluations were affected by package color and product taste. The results of this study indicated that (1) there is a contrast between expected psychological and actual perceptions and that (2) yellow and red packaging are suitable for a sweet product, blue is suitable for a salty product, and white is suitable for a tasteless product.”

Ching-Yi Wang and Fei-Ya Chang.  “The Influence of Packaging Color on Taste Expectations and Perceptions.”  Color Research and Application, in press,

Iqbal and Abubakar confirm how useful outdoor restorative spaces can be.   They report that “During the pandemic, the frontline healthcare workers experience intense anxiety, stress, burnout, and psychological breakdown, with severe implications on their mental and physical well-being. In addition to these implications, anxiety and stress can hinder their productivity and ability to perform their duties efficiently. The literature indicates that hospital gardens and contact with nature can help alleviate psychological distress among hospital staff. . . . This article also underscores the role of hospital outdoor spaces and garden facilities in coping with the challenges. While other measures to reduce stress among hospital staff and ensure their health and safety are important, hospital administrators and relevant government agencies should also emphasize the provision of gardens and open spaces in healthcare facilities. These spaces can act as potential areas for respite for hospital staff to help them cope with the stress and anxiety accumulated through working under crises.”

Saad Iqbal and Ismaila Abubakar.  “Hospital Outdoor Spaces as Respite Areas for Healthcare Staff During the COVID-19 Pandemic.”  HERD:  Health Environments Research and Design Journal, in press,

Sato and colleagues’ work confirms that many factors influence what we see.  They share that they “asked observers their perception of the appearance of the Necker cube placed at any of the five angles in the space of virtual reality. There were two patterns of neck movement, vertical and horizontal. . . . results indicate that perception was modulated [influenced] by the posture of the neck.”

Fumiaki Sato, Ryoya Shiomoto, Shigeki Nakauchi, and Tetsuto Minami.  2022. “Backward and Forward Next Tilt Affects Perceptual Bias When Interpreting Ambiguous Figures.”  Scientific Reports, vol. 12, no 7276,

Chen and Spence investigated how smelling particular sorts of odors influenced perceptions of facial attractiveness; it seems likely that their findings can also be applied in other contexts.  The researchers report that they studied “whether the presentation of a range of pleasant fragrances, containing both floral and fruity notes, would modulate people’s judgements of the facial attractiveness . . . of a selection of typical female faces varying in age in the range 20–69 years. . . . male participants rated the female faces as less attractive when presented with an unpleasant fragrance compared to clean air. The rated attractiveness of the female faces was lower when the participants rated the unpleasant odour as having a lower attractiveness and pleasantness, and a higher intensity. . . . the effects of pleasant fragrance on judgements of a person’s age appear to be less reliable. One possible explanation for the differing effect of scent in the two cases relates to the fact that attractiveness judgements are more subjective . . . than age ratings which are more objective, cognitive-mediated, and/or analytic in nature.”

Yi-Chuan Chen and Charles Spence.  2022. “Investigating the Crossmodal Influence of Odour on the Visual Perception of Facial Attractiveness and Age.”  Multisensory Research, DOI: 10.1163/22134808-bja10076

Benedetti and colleagues learned that the lighting of places where people are working influences how well they sleep at night.  The team reports that they “tested the effects of optimized dynamic daylight and electric lighting on circadian phase of melatonin, cortisol and skin temperatures in office workers. We equipped one office room with an automated controller for blinds and electric lighting, optimized for dynamic lighting (= Test room), and a second room without any automated control (= Reference room). Young healthy participants (n = 34) spent five consecutive workdays in each room. . . . Vertical illuminance in the Test room was 1177 ± 562 photopic lux . . . which was 320 lux higher than in the Reference room. . . . Melanopic equivalent daylight (D65) illuminance was 931 ± 484 melanopic lux in the Test room and 730 ± 390 melanopic lux in the Reference room. . . . The melatonin secretion onset and peripheral heat loss in the evening occurred significantly earlier [people were sleepy earlier] . . . in the Test compared to the Reference room.”

Marta Benedetti, Lenka Maierova, Christian Cajochen, Jean-Louis Scartezzini, and Mirjam Munch. 2022. “Optimized Office Lighting Advances Melatonin Phase and Peripheral Heat Loss Prior Bedtime.”  Scientific Reports, vol. 12, np. 4267,

Researchers have determined that looking at plants and guided meditation have similar effects on our mental state. Archary and Thatcher studied recovery from mental fatigue (which degraded mood) and found that “distress significantly decreased for participants in the indoor plant break condition while distress significantly decreased . . . in the guided meditation break condition. Indoor plants and guided meditation had a small, but significant positive impact on [mood] restoration. . . . Indoor plants are a cost-effective green ergonomics intervention in offices. This study found that a rest break with indoor plants was as effective as a rest break with guided meditation for affective [mood] restoration after [mental] fatigue.”

Preyen Archary and Andrew Thatcher.  2021. “Affective and Cognitive Restoration:  Comparing the Restorative Role of Indoor Plants and Guided Meditation.”  Ergonomics, vol. 65, no. 7, pp. 933-942,

Researchers have investigated responses to wood used in built environments in cities; it is possible that their findings are relevant in other contexts.  A press release from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology reports that a recent study based there “examines how timber construction can make a comeback in cities. Its proposition is that more color is the key to greater acceptance. . . . the requirements of present-day urban planning are forming entirely new connections with the structural principles of timber construction. . . . The authors . . . advocate plywood surfaces and laminated ceilings, structural rather than chemical wood protection, ecologically sound planting schemes – and more color. ‘Color is timber construction’s admission ticket to urban architecture,’ says Falk Schneemann . . . one of the three authors of the study. . . . ‘It inspires acceptance and facilitates the conceptual integration of wooden structures into established urban neighborhoods.’ In addition, modern wood stains that pose no health hazards protect the wood against harmful environmental influences such as exhaust fumes, ultraviolet radiation, and fungi.”

“Urban Timber Construction:  Colored Façades Increase Acceptance.”  2022.  Press release, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology,

Shi, Mai, and Mo investigated links between the shapes of products and the opinions formed of them.  They report that “this research explores how anthropomorphic products’ humanlike body shapes influence consumer evaluation and purchase intention (PI). Findings . . . indicate that a chubby product shape is more likely to trigger perceptions of Agreeableness, whereas a thin humanized shape is more likely to trigger perceptions of Conscientiousness. Moreover, product attitudes are more favorable and PI is higher when products’ internal attributes (i.e., warmth and competence) match product humanized body shapes (i.e., chubby shape-warmth attribute or thin shape-competence attribute) than when shapes and product attributes mismatch. . . . This research suggests the effectiveness of product design based on congruity between anthropomorphic product shapes (i.e., chubby and thin shapes) and internal attributes (i.e., warmth and competence attributes). A chubby-shaped product generates more favorable product evaluation and higher PI when warmth is its internal attribute. Such preference and higher PI are found for thin anthropomorphic products with the competence attribute.”

Bing Shi, Yixia Mai, and Minying Mo.  “Chubby or Thin?  Investigation of (In)Congruity Between Product Body Shapes and Internal Warmth/Competence.”  Journal of Experimental Psychology:  Applied,


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