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Franconeri, Padilla, Shah, Zacks, and Hullman (in a study published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest) report on their research into how to share data with others. Their recommendations for sending messages via data visualizations include: “Understand how starting axes at zero might not always be the best option because it can mask relevant data patterns or create the illusion of patterns that do not reflect reality. . . . beware that slopes in line graphs can create perceptual distortions; use caution when mapping continuous numbers to different hues because it can exaggerate differences; and choose colors that are friendly to color-blind viewers. . . . Transform legends into labels embedded in the figures and avoid distracting animations or text. Attempt to use visualizations that your audience is familiar with, and respect common associations (e.g., “up” and “darker” mean “more”). . . . When communicating risk to audiences who may have a lower ability to work with numbers and mathematics, rely on absolute instead of relative rates, and convey probabilities (e.g., 3 out of 10) instead of percentages (e.g., 30%).”

“The Science of Visual Data Communication:  What Works.”  2021.  Press release, Association for Psychological Science,

Roessler, Weber, Tawil, and Kuhn evaluated human responses to various housing facades, by getting people in Denmark, Germany, and Canada to provide their impressions of images of Canadian homes.  The investigators report that “the present study aimed at characterizing potentially central aspects in the judgement of house facades and identified that the dimensions: friendliness, liking and invitingness, as well as safety and freedom seem to be of importance. Facelikeness however, although previously discussed with respect to house facades, does not seem to play a major role in explicit ratings of participants.”

K. Roessler, S. Weber, N. Tawil, and S. Kuhn.  “Psychological Attributes of House Façades:  A Graph Network Approach in Environmental Psychology.”  Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press,

Ellenberg’s recent book on geometry is drawing lots of attention to a topic many thought they’d left behind when they graduated from high school.  Ellenberg makes it clear why geometry is a powerful and continuing force in our lives, explaining many of the issues we face day-to-day: “We are living in a wild geometric boomtown, global in scope.  Geometry isn’t out there beyond space and time, it’s right here with us, mixed in with the reasoning of everyday life.  It is beautiful?  Yes, but not bare.  Geometers see Beauty with its work clothes on.”

Jordan Ellenberg.  2021.  Shape:  The Hidden Geometry of Information, Biology, Strategy, Democracy, and Everything Else.  Penguin Press; New York.

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,


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