Latest Blog Posts

Wang, Liao, Lyckvi, and Chen studied the different implications of using visual and auditory alarms.  They determined via “data from two simulator studies . . . where the visual vs. the auditory modality was used to present the same type of advisory traffic information under the same driving scenarios. . . . that modality influences the drivers' behaviour patterns significantly. Visual information helps drivers to drive more accurately and efficiently, whereas auditory information supports quicker responses. This suggests that there are potential benefits in applying both modalities in tandem, as they complement each other.”

Minjuan Wang, Yuan Liao, Sus Lyckvi, and Fang Chen.  “How Drivers Respond to Visual Vs. Auditory Information in Advisory Traffic Information Systems.”  Behaviour and Information Technology, in press,

A research team lead by Marschallek studied links between the personality factor need for uniqueness and visual aesthetic sensitivity.  The investigators asked study “participants to complete the German adaptation of the Need for Uniqueness scale (NfU-G) and the Visual Aesthetic Sensitivity Test (VAST)—including the VAST-Revised (VAST-R). The NfU-G measures the need to set oneself apart from others, whereas the VAST(-R) tests the ability to identify the objective aesthetic goodness of a figural composition. . . . the higher a participant scores on the NfU-G scale, the lower the percentage of correctly identified drawings on the VAST(-R). . . . Thus, the results suggest that participants who strive for individuality exhibit lower visual aesthetic sensitivity since they tend to violate norms in order to assert their uniqueness.”

Barbara Marschallek, Selina Weiler, Mona Jorg, and Thomas Jacobson.  “Make It Special!  Negative Correlations Between the Need for Uniqueness and Visual Aesthetic Sensitivity.” Empirical Studies of the Arts, in press,

Park and Evans assessed the current relevance of Lynch’s work.  They share that “Kevin Lynch’s The Image of the City (1960) identified five physical elements—path, edge, district, node, and landmark—that are the building blocks of place.  Both the physical and sociocultural function of these elements, along with their locations, affects how we comprehend (legibility) and generate meaning of place (imageability). . . . dependence on LBS [location-based services, online applications that reflect users’ geographic locations and include navigation apps . . local weather functions. . . augmented reality games (e.g., Pokemon Go)] for wayfinding undermines the significance of local landmarks and other elements. . . . Snapshot information, such as pictures featured on LBS, often lack context and are devoid of kinetic and other sensory information.  Virtual exposure to geotagged pictures therefore can help build an image of the city but not necessarily contribute to its legibility.”

Giyoung Park and Gary Evans.  2018.  “Lynch’s Elements of the City in the Digital Era.”  Journal of the American Planning Association, vol. 84, no. 3-4, pp. 276-278,

Gold and colleagues establish that with music, as with other sensory stimuli, sometimes not straying too far from expectations is best.  The researchers found that “as music manipulates patterns of melody, rhythm, and more, it proficiently exploits our expectations. Given the importance of anticipating and adapting to our ever-changing environments, making and evaluating uncertain predictions can have strong emotional effects. Accordingly, we present evidence that listeners consistently prefer music of intermediate predictive complexity, and that preferences shift towards expected musical outcomes in more uncertain contexts.”  

Benjamin Gold, Marcus Pearce, Ernest Mas-Herrero, Alain Dagher, and Robert Zatorre. “Predictability and Uncertainty in the Pleasure of Music:  A Reward for Learning?  JNeurosci, in press,

Roose and colleagues studied how the position of horizons in images influence thought processes.  They report that “when consumers adopt an abstract processing style (broad perspective), they attach more weight to the advantages of a remote situation . . . and they exhibit increased moral behavior . . . and willingness to pay. . . . Consequently, for marketers engaged in fundraising, promoting long‐term beneficial products, or seeking to encourage a broad scope among consumers, their advertising stimuli should evoke abstract processing, and we reveal that it may be advisable for them to include a panoramic picture with a low horizon [relatively close to bottom of image]. . . . a concrete style of processing . . . helps people make compromises because a concrete mindset emphasizes difficulties, costs, and situational pressures. . . . For products marketed mainly as preventatives for instant difficulties or costs, marketers thus might develop panoramic advertisements with a high horizon to evoke concrete processing.”  Images used to gather data were of nature scenes.

Gudrun Roose, Iris Vermeir, Maggie Geuens, and Anneleen Van Kerckhoe. 2019.  “A Match Made in Heaven or Down Under?  The Effectiveness of Matching Visual and Verbal Horizons in Advertising.”  Journal of Consumer Psychology, vol. 29, no. 3, pp. 411-427,

Trujillo and Howley looked at relationships between climate and crime levels; their findings indicate the importance of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) in Torrid Zones and of tailoring CPTED features to an area.  The research team “investigates the relationship between weather and crime in Barranquilla, Colombia, a city in the Torrid Zone, which in contrast to more commonly studied temperate zones is hot and humid year-round. Our analysis is based on daily variations in four weather variables (temperature, relative humidity, precipitation, and wind speed) and two indicators of criminal activity, namely, homicides and interpersonal violence. . . . we do not find any statistically significant relationship between weather patterns and homicides. However, we find that weather can be an important predictor of interpersonal violence in this area. These findings draw attention to the importance of considering weather factors when designing a long-run urban security policy in one of the world’s most vulnerable regions to climate change.”

Juan Trujillo and Peter Howley.  “The Effect of Weather on Crime in a Torrid Urban Zone.” Environment and Behavior, in press,

Vallen and colleagues have noted an interesting relationship between consumer physical forms and recommendations made to them; future studies that indicate if their findings can be applied in other contexts will be useful.  The Vallen-lead team found that “This research demonstrates that a consumer's physical appearance—and, more specifically, his or her body size—predictably influences the product(s) that the consumeris recommended. Four studies conducted in both field and lab settings show that agents more frequently recommend round (vs. angular) shaped products to heavier targets, notably for products and categories in which body size is irrelevant (e.g., lamps and perfume). We attribute this to a combination of shape‐congruency and trait‐congruency, whereby individuals choose products for others based on shared dimensions of the person and product.”

Beth Vallen, Karthik Sridhar, Dan Rubin, Veronika Ilyuk, Lauren Block, and Jennifer Argo.  2019. “Shape- and Trait-Congruency: Using Appearance-Based Cues as a Basis for Product Recommendations.”  Journal of Consumer Psychology, vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 271-284,

Botner, Mishra, and Mishra link various types of sounds, when used in names, to perception of risk.  The team found that “For decisions involving greater risk and reward for the consumer, marketing decision- makers may benefit from using more volatile names. That is, a risky financial portfolio targeting adventurous investors that seek high risk and reward could use a volatile name. Conversely, when people seek more certain outcomes, a calm name could be more effective; e.g., a conservative money market account may be perceived as more stable and thus more effective in garnering interest from cautious investors if its name appears calm. Or, consider a charity or fundraising initiative with a high or low probability of success at its onset. In this instance, a more volatile project name could garner greater donations when positioned as an underdog or long shot. Conversely, when positioned as having a high chance of success, the project could receive greater buy-in when its project name is more calm.”  Examples of volatile and calm names are provided: “Taketa”is seems more volatilethan “Maluma.”

Keith Botner, Arul Mishra, and Himanshu Mishra.  “The Influence of the Phonetic Elements of a Name on Risk Assessment.”  Journal of Consumer Research, in press,

As gift giving season approaches, it’s useful to keep top-of-mind the findings of a Rixom-lead team and interesting to consider how their work might be applied in other contexts.  The researchers report that “when recipients open a gift from a friend, they like it less when the giver has wrapped it neatly as opposed to sloppily. . . . Specifically, recipients set higher (lower) expectations for neatly (sloppily)-wrapped gifts, making it harder (easier) for the gifts to meet these expectations, resulting in contrast effects that lead to less (more) positive attitudes toward the gifts once unwrapped. However, when the gift-giver is an acquaintance, there is ambiguity in the relationship status and wrapping neatness serves as a cue about the relationship rather than the gift itself. This leads to assimilation effects where the recipient likes the gift more when neatly wrapped.  We assess these effects across three studies and find that they hold for desirable, neutral, and undesirable gifts, as well as both hypothetical and real gifts.”

Jessica Rixom, Erick Mas, Brett Rixom.  “Presentation Matters:  The Effect of Wrapping Neatness on Gift Attitudes.”  Journal of Consumer Psychology, in press,

Stancato and Keltner have identified additional implications of feeling awed.  They share that “Guided by prior work documenting that awe promotes humility, increases perceptions of uncertainty, and diminishes personal concerns . . . we tested the hypothesis that awe results in reduced conviction about one’s ideological attitudes. . . . participants induced to experience awe, relative to those feeling amusement or in a neutral control condition, expressed less conviction regarding their attitudes toward capital punishment. . . . and reduced desired social distance from those with different viewpoints regarding immigration. . . . These findings indicate that awe may lead to uncertainty and ambivalence regarding one’s attitudes . . . and that this in turn may promote reduced dogmatism and increased perceptions of social cohesion.” Research has shown that awe can be induced, for instance, by seeing majestic nature, such as the Grand Canyon, impressive architecture, for instance the Taj Mahal, and examples of outstanding workmanship.

Daniel Stancato and Dacher Keltner. “Awe, Ideological Conviction, and Perceptions of Ideological Opponents.”  Emotion, in press,


Subscribe to Latest Blog Posts