Latest Blog Posts
Ross, Meloy, and Bolton studied how disorder influences de-cluttering. The team found that when they “investigate[d] how dis/order (messy vs. tidy items) affects downsizing [they found], across nine focal studies, that a) consumers retain fewer items when choosing from a disorder set because b) order facilitates the comparisons within category that underlie the tendency to retain items. . . . Though consumers’ lay beliefs favor rejecting from order (i.e., choosing what to get rid of from tidy items), our findings point to the usefulness of selecting from disorder (i.e., choosing what to keep from messy items) as a downsizing strategy. Together, this research has implications for consumer downsizing activities, the burgeoning home organization and storage industries, as well as sustainability.”
Gretchen Ross, Margaret Meloy, and Lisa Bolton. “Disorder and Downsizing.” Journal of Consumer Research, in press, https://doi.org/10.1093/jcr/ucaa051
Wang and Zhao evaluated how the presence or absence of evergreen trees influences environmental preferences and psychological restoration. They report that “Evergreen plants can mediate landscape changes across seasons and increase greenness when deciduous trees are leafless. . . . this study conducted an experiment, in which, based on four photographs taken on a site in four seasons, 24 images were created using the photomontage technique by adding evergreen trees to the original pictures. The results indicated that: (1) evergreen plants significantly improved the landscape preference only in spring; (2) significant effects of evergreen plants on psychological restoration in spring, autumn and winter were noted and (3) types and amounts of evergreen trees had non-significant impacts on year-round preference and restoration. Additionally, seasonal transformation had an essential impact on both preference and restoration.”
Ronghua Wang and Jingwei Zhao. 2020. “Effects of Evergreen Trees on Landscape Preference and Perceived Restorativeness Across Seasons.” Landscape Research, vol. 45, no. 5, pp. 649-661, https://doi.org/10.1080/01426397.2019.1699507
Research by Jin, Jin, and Kang confirms that there are complex interrelationships between our sensory experiences. The trio probed how hearing various sounds at different volumes influences perceived environmental temperatures. They determined via a lab-based study that “acoustic evaluations were significantly higher for birdsong and slow-dance music than for dog barking, conversation, and traffic sound. . . . In summer, birdsong and slow-dance music effectively improved subjects’ thermal evaluations, while a high sound level of dog barking, conversation, and traffic sound resulted in a decrease; in the transition season, all types of sounds resulted in a decline in the thermal evaluations; meanwhile, in winter and summer, dog barking, conversation, traffic sound and slow-dance music at the low sound level produced higher thermal comfort and thermal acceptability. In terms of the overall evaluations, birdsong and slow-dance music at the low sound level improved overall comfort, while dog barking, conversation, and traffic sound resulted in a significant decrease. For dog barking, conversation, traffic sound and fast-dance music, the overall evaluations at the low sound level were higher than those at the high sound level.”
Yumeng Jin, Hong Jin, and Jian Kang. 2020. “Effects of Sound Types and Sound Levels on Subjective Environmental Evaluations in Different Seasons.” Building and Environment, vol. 183, 107215, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.buildenv.2020.107215
Older individuals whose homes are more accessible are less likely to feel depressed, according to a recently published study. Vitman-Schorr and colleagues identified, via interviewing people over 65 years old, “a direct negativeeffect between perceived accessibility and depressive symptoms. . . . The findings indicate that policy makers and professionals working with older adults should seek methods for enhancing both accessibility and social relationships in order to alleviate the depressive symptoms of older adults.” The researchers shared that “Perceived accessibility was measured by asking respondents the following question: ‘How satisfied are you with the options you have to go from place to place?’ . . . The question . . . provides an overall understanding of the perceived accessibility of the environment without asking multiple questions concerning modes of mobility . . . that may corrupt the results. For instance, if an older adult has walking problems but the living environment is well-served by public transportation, the person-environment fit might be high and hence satisfaction from the living environment might be high.”
Adi Vitman-Schorr, Liat Ayalon, and Snait Tamir. “The Relationship Between Satisfaction with the Accessibility of the Living Environment and Depressive Symptoms.” Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2020.101527
Walsh and de la Fuente assessed how people manage their at-home acoustic experiences and the repercussions of those actions. The researchers report that they “propose that home and homeliness [hominess] pertain to the degree to which we can control our auditory involvements with the world and with others. What we term ‘homely listening’ concerns the use of music to make oneself feel at home, in some cases, through seclusion and immersion, and, in others, through either the musical ordering of mundane routines or the use of music to engage in sociality with others. . . . in-depth qualitative interviews concerning mundane instances of musical listening [indicate that] the home is a complex sonic order involving territoriality as well as the aesthetic framing of activity through musical and non-musical sounds. We argue the home represents a negotiated sonic interaction order where individuals skillfully manage involvements with others and activities through their musical and other sound practices.”
Michael Walsh and Eduardo de la Fuente. 2020. “Sonic Havens: Towards a Goffmanesque Account of Homely Listening.” Housing, Theory and Society, vol. 37, no. 5, pp. 615-631, https://doi.org/10.1080/14036096.2019.1686060
Researchers investigated how to increase the sales appeal of chocolate; it seems likely that lessons learned are relevant to the promotion of other, similar goods. Brown, Hopfer, and Bakke determined that “Gold foil, ornate labels and an intriguing backstory are product characteristics highly desired by premium chocolate consumers. . . . [when assessing product options presented to them, participants] focused more on extrinsic cues, such as packaging, rather than intrinsic cues, such as flavor, to judge product quality. For example, almost all consumers found the craft chocolate sample to be novel and exciting, likening it to coffee and wine in terms of flavor and packaging elements. They were wowed by the product’s intricate label design and thick gold foil, with one consumer saying it was ‘like getting a golden ticket from Willy Wonka.’. . . . Meaning was another selling point, with the consumers placing a higher value on chocolate bars made by companies that had an interesting backstory, supported a cause or featured a person’s name.” This study was published in PLoS ONE.
Amy Duke. 2020. “Golden Ticket: Researchers Examine What Consumers Desire in Chocolate Products.” Press release, Pennsylvania State University, https://news.psu.edu/story/638401/2020/11/09/research/golden-ticket-rese...
Zhu and colleagues conducted a literature review and report on how the design of the physical work environment, at three different scales, can boost physical activity (PA) among employees. For example, “At the workstation scale, sit-stand desks, treadmill desks, and stationary high desks were found to reduce SB [sedentary behavior] and increase standing. Work building scale is relatively understudied, and reported correlates include staircase design, overall building design combining multiple PA-friendly strategies, and specific PA amenities (e.g., exercise facilities). On the work neighborhood scale, important correlates include work commute distance and corresponding route characteristics, parking availability and cost, and surrounding neighborhood environments.”
Xuemei Zhu, Aya Yoshikawa, Lingyi Qiu, Zhipeng Lu, Chanam Lee, and Marcia Ory. 2020. “Healthy Workplaces, Active Employees: A Systematic Literature Review on Impacts of Workplace Environments on Employees’ Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior.” Building and Environment, vol. 168, 206455, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.buildenv.2019.106455
Kolomatsky reviews a recent survey by the American Institute of Architects (of individual architects and custom-home building/renovation firms) regarding trends influencing home design. As he reports, “special-function rooms and products that serve needs particular to the pandemic [are] rising in popularity. . . . 68 percent of respondents cited increasing client requests for home offices, and none reported a decrease. . . . enhanced or ‘task’ lighting, also gained popularity. . . . there were more requests for sunrooms or three-season porches (rooms that bring nature indoors) and mud rooms or ‘drop zones’ (areas to isolate contaminated items from the house at large). . . . products for improving indoor air quality were newly popular: 41 percent of respondents cited an increase for such requests . . . Other new trends included exercise or yoga rooms and flexible spaces for home-schooling or other needs.”
Michael Kolomatsky. 2020. “How Is the Pandemic Shaping Home Design?” The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/22/realestate/pandemic-shaping-home-desi...
Gonzalez, Meyer, and Toldos identified links between gender and responses to online retail displays; it is possible that their findings can also be applied in other contexts. The research trio report that their “study suggests a potential influence of rich contextual product displays, relative to plain white backgrounds. The results of five studies reveal that the product usage context influences purchase intentions among female customers. Women and men differ in their decision-making processes and evaluate different attributes and benefits prior to purchase. Displaying a product in a rich contextual setting appears to enhance women’s perceptions of emotional value, which heightens their purchase intentions. . . . Especially in sections or stores targeted at women, more contextual product displays likely can enhance conversion rates and overall sales. . . . both discount and luxury retailers can implement these tactics. . . . The contextual background should focus on actual product usage, including concrete, consistent and familiar elements which makes it easier for female customers to imagine its usage.”
Eva Gonzalez, Jan-Hinrich Meyer, and M. Toldos. 2021. “What Women Want? How Contextual Product Displays Influence Women’s Online Shopping Behavior.” Journal of Business Research, vol. 123, pp. 625-641, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2020.10.002
Scents can enhance virtual experiences. Flavian and colleagues report that “Our experiences are constructed by the stimulation of all our senses. . . . This study analyzes how the addition of ambient scent to a VR experience affects digital pre-experiences in a service context (tourism). Results from a laboratory experiment confirmed that embodied VR devices, together with pleasant and congruent [consistent with experience] ambient scents, enhance sensory stimulation, which . . .influence affective [emotional] and behavioral reactions. . . . Using scents in closed, public spaces (e.g. exhibition centers, travel agencies) can be troublesome as the scents might mix with other odors in the environment. . . . A possible solution to these challenges could be to use isolated cabins for the entire multisensory experience. . . . In a nutshell, although a pleasant scent can improve the digital multisensory experience, congruency is key to fostering positive customer reactions.”
Carlos Flavian, Sergio Ibanez-Sanchez, and Carlos Orus. 2021. “The Influence of Scent on Virtual Reality Experiences: The Role of Aroma-Content Congruence.” Journal of Business Research, vol. 123, pp. 289-301, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2020.09.036