Latest Blog Posts
The Mason team’s findings support calls to keep light levels low in spaces where people are sleeping. The group reports that their “laboratory study shows that, in healthy adults, one night of moderate (100 lx) light exposure during sleep increases nighttime heart rate, decreases heart rate variability (higher sympathovagal balance), and increases next-morning insulin resistance when compared to sleep in a dimly lit (<3 lx) environment. Moreover, a positive relationship between higher sympathovagal balance and insulin levels suggests that sympathetic activation may play a role in the observed light-induced changes in insulin sensitivity. . . . Attention to avoiding exposure to light at night during sleep may be beneficial for cardiometabolic health.”
Ivy Mason, Daniela Grimaldi, Kathryn Reid, and Phyllis Zee. 2022. “Light Exposure During Sleep Impairs Cardiometabilic Function.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 119, no. 12, e2113290119, https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2113290119
Research by Wali and teammates confirms that walkability boosts health. They share that they examined “high resolution data for 476 participants in the Rails and Health study on health care costs, mode specific MVPA[ moderate-to-vigorous physical activity], parcel-level built environment, and neighborhood perception surveys. . . . A 1% increase in bike, walk, and transit-related MVPA was associated with lower health care costs by −0.28%, −0.09%, and −0.27% respectively. A one-unit increase in neighborhood walkability index correlates with a 6.48% reduction in health care costs. . . . The results suggest the potential to alter behaviors and lower health care costs through retrofitting neighborhoods.”
Behram Wali, Lawrence Frank, Deborah Young, Brian Saelens, Richard Meenan, John Dickerson, Erin Keast, Jennifer Kuntz, and Stephen Fortmann. “Pathways from Built Environment to Health Care Costs: Linking Objectively Measured Built Environment with Physical Activity and Health Care Expenditures.” Environment and Behavior, in press, https://doi.org/10.1177/00139165221083291
Research by Londono and de Maya indicates how attentive we are to human-like design elements. The duo share that “The current research focuses on how anthropomorphizing [providing them with human characteristics] retail cues such as dump bins influences consumer behavior. . . . Using eye-tracking technology in an ecological shopping environment, we tracked shoppers' gazes through the store and analyzed their visual attention. Results show that attaching anthropomorphic forms to dump bins positively affects attitudes toward the displayed products. In addition, we demonstrate that displaying a vice product in an anthropomorphic dump bin increases both attitude toward the product and purchase intention, compared to the display of a virtue product. These findings suggest that anthropomorphism has an empathy-helping underlying psychological mechanism that, when applied to retail communication activities, can contribute to justifying the purchase of vice products.”
Juan Londono and Salvador de Maya. “The Influence of Anthropomorphic Cues in Retailing: The Moderating Effect of Vice Versus Virtue Products.” Psychology of Marketing, in press, https://doi.org/10.1002/mar.21655
Coutrot and colleagues set out to learn more about how where we grew up influences our sense of direction; what they’ve learned may help explain previously baffling programming research findings, for example. The Coutrot-lead team report that “how the environment in which one grew up affects later cognitive abilities remains poorly understood. Here we used a cognitive task embedded in a video game to measure non-verbal spatial navigation ability in 397,162 people from 38 countries across the world. Overall, we found that people who grew up outside cities were better at navigation [had a better sense of direction]. More specifically, people were better at navigating in environments that were topologically similar to where they grew up. Growing up in cities with a low street network entropy (for example, Chicago [less heterogeneous, more gridlike, for example]) led to better results at video game levels with a regular layout, whereas growing up outside cities or in cities with a higher street network entropy [more heterogeneous, streets not meeting at right angles frequently, for instance] (for example, Prague) led to better results at more entropic video game levels.” So, the design/form of where you grow up influences your sense of direction/wayfinding ability for the rest of your life.
A.Coutrot, E. Manley, S. Goodroe, C, Gahnstrom, G. Filomena, D. Yesiltepe, R. Dalton, J. Wiener, C. Holscher, M. Hornberger, and H. Spiers. 2022. “Entropy of City Street Networks Linked to Future Spatial Navigation Ability.” Nature, vol. 604, pp. 104-110, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-022-04486-7
Santangelo and associates studied the effects of hearing music on decisions made. They determined that “music is frequently played while we are engaged in other activities that rely on decision-making (e.g., driving). . . . We analyzed response times and accuracy from more than 100-thousand decisions and mapped the effects of music onto decision-process components with a mechanistic model of decision-making. We found evidence . . . . [that] decisions—across domains—were faster but less accurate with music. . . . Overall, our results suggest that background music shapes our decisions by making us less cautious.”
Agustin Santangelo, Casimir Ludwig, Joaquin Navajas, Mariano Sigman, and Maria Leone. “Background Music Changes the Policy of Human Decision-Making: Evidence from Experimental and Drift-Diffusion Model-Based Approaches on Different Decision Tasks.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, in press, https://doi.org/10.1037/xge0001189
Llinares and colleagues studied how classroom wall color hue influences student performance. They determined via a virtual reality project that “Cold hues improve attention and memory performance. . . . The objective of the present study is to analyse the impact that warm and cold hue coloured classroom walls have on the cognitive attention and memory functions of university students. . . . performance was quantified through psychological (attention and memory tasks) and neurophysiological (heart rate variability and electroencephalogram) metrics related to the cognitive functions analysed.”
Carmen Llinares, Juan Higuera-Trujillo, and Jua Serra. 2021. “Cold and Warm Coloured Classrooms. Effects on Students’ Attention and Memory Measured Through Psychological and Neurophysiological Responses.” Building and Environment, vol. 196, 107726, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.buildenv.2021.107726
Nanu and colleagues investigated how hotel lobby design influences opinions formed of hotels. They report that their “study investigates preferences of millennial and non-millennial travelers towards hotel lobby design concerning style (contemporary vs. traditional) and biophilic elements [plants] (present vs. absent). This quantitative study is designed as an online, virtual, scenario-based experiment. . . . The findings of the study reveal that the lobby interior design style has a significant impact on booking intention across different generations. Moreover, millennials are more impacted by the design style of the hotel lobby than non-millennials. Biophilic design has also been found to impact the satisfaction and emotions of guests across different generations. . . . This study revealed that millennials do prefer modern-looking designs. . . . The combination of a modern interior with interesting plant additions would make the lobby of hotels fit for social media as well, which would increase general customer awareness.”
Luana Nanu, Faizan Ali, Katerina Berezina, and Cihan Cobanoglu. 2020. “The Effect of Hotel Lobby Design on Booking Intentions: An Intergenerational Examination.” International Journal of Hospitality Management, vol. 89, 102530, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhm.2020.102530
Another study indicates that there are intriguing similarities between our online experiences and those we have in real life. A press release related to the new research indicates that “The more the video quality of an online meeting degrades, the louder we start talking, a new study by researchers at Radboud University and the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics finds. People also tend to change up their gestures to compensate. Their findings were published today in the Royal Society Open Science journal. . . . When conversing over Zoom or Skype, we use some of the same tactics to make ourselves heard as we use in the real world, says James Trujillo, first author of the paper and a cognitive scientist at Radboud University and the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. ‘If you’re talking to someone in a busy area with a lot of background noise, you typically use gestures to support your speech, and you start talking louder.’”
“Why We Shout During Zoom Calls If the Image Gets Blurry.” 2022. Press release, Radboud University, https://www.ru.nl/en/research/research-news/why-we-shout-during-zoom-cal...
Arshamian and teammates determined that worldwide people tend to find the same odors pleasant to smell. As they report, they “asked 225 individuals from 9 diverse nonwestern cultures—hunter-gatherer to urban dwelling—to rank . . . odorants from most to least pleasant. Contrary to expectations, culture explained only 6% of the variance in pleasantness rankings, whereas individual variability or personal taste explained 54%. Importantly, there was substantial global consistency, with molecular identity explaining 41% of the variance in odor pleasantness rankings. . . . Taken together, this shows human olfactory perception is strongly constrained by universal principles. . . . Our results demonstrate the perception of odor pleasantness is largely independent of cultural factors. . . and can be predicted from physicochemical properties of odorants. . . . Critically, we show there is a universal bedrock of olfactory perception shared among all people.”
Artin Arshamian, Richard Gerkin, Nicole Kruspe, Johan Lundstrom, Joel Mainland, and Asifa Majid. 2022. “The Perception of Odor Pleasantness is Shared Across Cultures.” Current Biology, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2022.02.062
New research verifies that sensory experiences vary by culture. For a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences n international research team led by Elizabeth Margulis and Devin McAuley “asked hundreds of people what stories they imagined when listening to instrumental music. . . . listeners in Michigan and Arkansas imagined very similar scenes, while listeners in China envisioned completely different stories. . . . For example, a musical passage identified only as W9 brought to mind a sunrise over a forest, with animals waking and birds chirping for American listeners, while those in Dimen [China] pictured a man blowing a leaf on a mountain, singing a song to his beloved. . . . the same music sparked very similar visuals in hundreds of listeners — unless they had grown up in a different cultural context.” The researchers were careful to use musical pieces that had not been part of movie soundtracks, etc.
“What Do You See When You Listen to Music?” 2022. Press release, Princeton University, https://www.princeton.edu/news/2022/04/08/what-do-you-see-when-you-liste...