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Africa, Heerwagen, Loftness, and Balagtas identify ways that biophilic design can support the wellbeing of people and the planet.  They report that “Natural settings like landscaped campuses, atria, rooftops, and shoreline esplanades that embody or recall an oasis of ecological normalcy (e.g., the experience of seasons, historical leisure activities or the passage of time) foster psychological stability and anchor resilience. Contact with salutogenic [health and wellbeing supporting] natural elements through views, materials, sounds, and architecture during discrete periods when recreation and relaxation outside are less safe can buffer individual and community stressors. Circadian-effective lighting strategies support overall health and, specifically, help regulate sleep-wake cycles. . . .  Communal spaces like green roofs, atria, and gardens are pro-social and encourage social cohesion (Williams, 2017). Relationships developed in these spaces knits a kind of “social infrastructure” that is the warp and weft of resilience and adaptation (Klinenberg, 2018).”    

Julia Africa, Judith Heerwagen, Vivian Loftness, and Catherine Balagtas. 2019.   “Biophilic Design and Climate Change:  Performance Parameters for Health.”  Frontiers in Built Environment, vol. 5, no. 28,

What’s it like to live or work in a tall building, one with 30 or more floors?  Ng reviewed “recent empirical studies on occupants’ perception of tall buildings, and physiological and psychological experiences in relation to its tallness. Occupants perceive better view, less noise, and better air quality as benefits for living and working on higher floors than on lower floors. However, occupants also expressed concerns about height, difficulty with vertical transportation, strong wind, and escape in case of fire.”

Cheuk Ng.  2017.  “Living and Working in Tall Buildings:  Satisfaction and Perceived Benefits and Concerns of Occupants.”  Frontiers in Built Environment, vol. 3, no. 70,

Research conducted by Felix and Cavazotte confirms that workplace personalization can have psychological benefits.  The duo report that “Individuals are sometimes unable to realize their callings in their formal careers. . . . We developed a grounded theory regarding how people cope with their unanswered callings through . . . workplace personalization. Our study revealed that through this strategy, individuals retain the aspects of an unanswered calling in their self-concept and then reduce the consequences of not realizing the calling. Some participants enjoy some of the benefits of perceiving a calling, even without performing it in a formal work role. This phenomenon occurs because workplace personalization can be used to represent unanswered callings performed in the past and present, or that are intended to be performed in the future. This form of enactment produces interpersonal and intrapersonal processes that help buffer the negative consequences of not realizing a calling.”

Bruno Felix and Flavia Cavazotte.  2019.  “When a Calling Goes Unanswered: Exploring the Role of Workplace Personalizations as Calling Enactments.”  Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 10, no. 1940,

Stenling and colleagues investigated the effects of climbing stairs on mental performance and mood and their findings generally support design that encourages people to take the stairs.  The researchers “examined the effects of stair-climbing intervals on subsequent cognitive performance and mood in healthy young adults [mean age 19]. . . . Participants visited the lab on two occasions, one week apart, and completed one control session (no exercise) and one stair-climbing session (3 x 1 min stair-climbing intervals) with cognitive performance and mood assessed at the end of each session. . . . Participants felt more energetic . . . less tense . . . and less tired . . . following the stair climbing. . . . findings indicate that short bouts of stair climbing in a naturalistic setting can induce cognitive benefits for more challenging tasks, albeit only in males. . . . Short bouts of stair climbing can be a practical approach to increase feelings of energy in daily life.”

Andreas Stenling, Adam Moylan, Emily Fulton, and Liana Machado.  2019.  “Effects of a Brief Stair-Climbing Intervention on Cognitive Performance and Mood States in Healthy Young Adults.”  Frontiers in Psychology, doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02300

Schepman and Rodway evaluated meanings attributed to abstract and representational art.  Working with adults who were not art experts, they found that meanings attributed to artworks “were shared to a somewhat greater extent for representational art but that meanings for abstract artworks were also shared above baseline. . . . analyses . . . showed core shared meanings for both art types, derived from literal and metaphoric interpretations of visual elements. The findings support the view that representational art elicits higher levels of shared meaning than abstract art.”

Astrid Schepman and Paul Rodway.  “Shared Meaning in Representational and Abstract Visual Art:  An Empirical Study.”  Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, in press,

Design can support effective decision-making by providing access to places where people can prepare food and eat comfortably, at workplaces and other similar locations outside the home.  Organizational policies and procedures are key for the effective use of these spaces.  Benjamin Vincent and Jordan Skrynka determined that “hunger significantly altered people’s decision-making, making them impatient and more likely to settle for a small reward that arrives sooner than a larger one promised at a later date. . . . ‘We found there was a large effect, people’s preferences shifted dramatically from the long to short term when hungry,’ he [Vincent] said. . . . For three different types of rewards, when hungry, people expressed a stronger preference for smaller hypothetical rewards to be given immediately rather than larger ones that would arrive later.” Vincent and Skrynka’s study is published in Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. 

“Don’t Make Major Decisions on an Empty Stomach, Research Suggests.” 2019.  Press release, University of Dundee,

A recent press release from the Association for Psychological Science indicates that there is an issue with the design of the most recently released iPhone.  The press release reports that “The three camera lenses on the new Pro and Pro Max phones have sparked reactions from people who suffer from trypophobia—a fear of clusters of small holes like those found in English muffins, honeycomb, or lotus flowers. . . . complaints about the iPhone design have drawn attention to a seminal 2013 study published in Psychological Science.  Vision scientists Geoff Cole and Arnold Wilkins. . . . compared 76 images of objects obtained from a trypophobia website, and found that the objects have relatively high contrast energy at midrange spatial frequencies in comparison to control images. More importantly, they found that a variety of poisonous animals—including the king cobra, the blue-ringed octopus, and the deathstalker scorpion—share this same spectral characteristic. . . . ‘We found that people who don’t have the phobia still rate trypophobic images as less comfortable to look at than other images’ [Cole].”  The image of a blue-ringed octopus here ( illustrates the problematic dot pattern.

“Newest iPhones Draw Attention to Research on Fear of Holes.”  2019.  Press release, Association for Psychological Science,

Hu, Rosa, and Andersonstudied the feasibility of using yellow in situations where safety is important and found it is a good option when timely visibility is important.  They investigated if “yellow differentially influence[s] attention and action and if so is this related to purely visual or affective factors? . . .  Despite being matched in arousal, when yellow and blue were pitted against each other, yellow was consistently seen as occurring first, even when objectively appearing second at short stimulus onset asynchronies. Despite being matched in valence, yellow again showed a larger temporal priority when it was pitted against red. . . . .These results support that yellow is a safety color, having a temporal advantage.”

K. Hu, E. Rosa, and A. Anderson.  “Yellow Is for Safety: Perceptual and Affective Perspectives.”  Psychological Research, in press,

As more and more people use standing desks, understanding how standing influences thinking becomes more important.  Smith, Davoli, Knapp, and Abrams report that “Postural changes and the maintenance of postural stability have been shown to affect many aspects of cognition. . . .  we examined the extent to which selective visual attention may differ between standing and seated postures in three tasks: the Stroop color-word task, a task-switching paradigm, and visual search. We found reduced Stroop interference, a reduction in switch costs, and slower search rates in the visual search task when participants stood compared to when they sat while performing the tasks. The results suggest that the postural demands associated with standing enhance cognitive control, revealing broad connections between body posture and cognitive mechanisms.” More information on cognitive control is available here:

K. Smith, C. Davoli, W. Knapp, and R. Abrams. “Standing Enhances Cognitive Control and Alters Visual Search.”  Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics, in press,

Romero, Craig, and Kumar studied physical experiences and perceptions of time.  They report that “Cognitive linguistic studies have found that people perceive time to be intertwined with space. Western consumers, in particular, visualize time on a horizontal spatial axis, with past events on the left and future events on the right. . . . Integrating cognitive linguistics, time psychology, and intertemporal choice . . . five studies [demonstrate] that when choices are displayed horizontally (vs. vertically), consumers more steeply discount future outcomes. . . . horizontal (vs. vertical) temporal displays enhance the amount of attention devoted to considering the time delay and lead consumers to overestimate how long it will take to receive benefits.”

Marisabel Romero, Adam Craig, and Anand Kumar. 2019.   “Mapping Time:  How the Spatial Representation of Time Influences Intertemporal Choices.”  Journal of Marketing Research, vol. 56, no. 4, pp. 620-636, DOI: 10.1177/0022243719827967


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