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Gupta and Hagtvedt have done intriguing research related to the spacing between letters.  Their “research demonstrates that interstitial space in textual brand logos—that is, spacious (vs. compact) arrangement of letters—unfavorably influences brand attitude by reducing product safety perceptions. When potential threats are salient, the effect tends to occur within tight (but not loose) cultures, characterized by sensitivity to threats and a need for rigid social structures. When threats are not salient, the effect appears to occur across cultures. Five studies, including lab and field experiments, as well as archival dataset analysis, provide supportive evidence.”  Tight and loose cultures are described here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michele_J._Gelfand#Cultural_tightness–looseness

Tanvi Gupta and Henrik Hagtvedt.  “Safe Together, Vulnerable Apart:  How Interstitial Space in Text Logos Impacts Brand Attitudes in Tight Versus Loose Cultures.”  Journal of Consumer Research, in press, https://doi.org/10.1093/jcr/ucab006

Investigators have identified several reasons for Zoom fatigue that are consistent with research previously done by environmental psychologists. Bailenson and colleagues, via a study published in Technology, Mind and Behavior, have determined, for example, that “Excessive amounts of close-up eye contact is highly intense. . . . everyone is looking at everyone, all the time. . . . depending on your monitor size and whether you’re using an external monitor, faces on videoconferencing calls can appear too large for comfort. . . .  When someone’s face is that close to ours in real life, our brains interpret it as an intense situation that is either going to lead to mating or to conflict. . . . Most video platforms show a square of what you look like on camera during a chat. . . . when you see a reflection of yourself, you are more critical of yourself. . . . Movement is limited in ways that are not natural. ‘There’s a growing research now that says when people are moving, they’re performing better cognitively,’ Bailenson said.” Environmental psychologists have extensively researched eye contact, personal space, mirror use, and the cognitive implications of movement.

Vignesh Ramachandran. 2021.  “Stanford Researchers Identify Four Causes for ‘Zoom Fatigue’ and Their Simple Fixes.”  Press release, Stanford University, https://news.stanford.edu/2021/02/23/four-causes-zoom-fatigue-solutions/

Research completed by Jiang and colleagues indicates that plant scents can augment wellbeing. The Jiang lead team describe their research: “Non-fragrant Primula malacoides Franchwas used as a control stimulus, and Primula forbesii Franch, which has a floral fragrance, was used as an experimental stimulus. . . . We found that mean blood pressure and pulse rate decreased significantly after the experiment in both conditions. . . .  the vitality (V) subscale and total emotional state scores were significantly better in the experimental vs. control condition. . . . the sense of relaxation and comfort were significantly higher in the experimental vs. control condition. Compared with the non-fragrant Primula, the fragrant Primula induced relatively better physiological and psychological effects. . . .  Primula is very popular among indoor ornamental plants. It is one of the top-selling indoor potted flowering plants in Europe, America, and East Asia because of it produces colorful flowers early in the season.”

Songlin Jiang, Li Deng, Hao Luo, Xi Li, Baimeng Guo, Mingyan Jiang, Yin Jia, Jun Ma, Lingxia Sun, and Zhuo Huang.  2021.  “Effect of Fragrant Primula Flowers on Physiology and Psychology in Female College Students: An Empirical Study.”  Frontiers in Psychology, https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.607876

Radicchi lead a team probing the psychological implications of urban soundscapes.  The group found that “At an international level it is recognised that urban noise has serious and negative public health impacts. . . . Urban designers and planners. . . . need an awareness of the immaterial cultural heritage of place – cultural events, festivals, sound marks and oral traditions, when dealing with the protection and renewal of the historical city. . . . Sense of place can alter our perceptions of urban settings in positive ways: knowing more about how place attachment, place identity, and place dependence associate with the ways in which people use, remember, and feel about cities will be important for more comprehensive and inclusive soundscape planning and management strategies. Integrating soundwalking and soundscape methods in the toolkit of mobility planners can help us consider the implications of the acoustic environmental quality for pedestrians and create urban environments that are accessible, healthier, and enriching for every inhabitant.”

Antonella Radicchi, Pinar Yelmi, Andy Chung, Pamela Jordan, Sharon Stewart, Aggelos Tsaligopoulos, Lindsay McCunn, and Marcus Grant.  2021. “Sound and the Healthy City.”  Cities and Health, vol. 5, no. 1-2, pp. 1-13, https://doi.org/10.1080/23748834.2020.1821980

Parsons reviews current research on thermal comfort; material that can be usefully applied in a variety of environments, from offices to public spaces, indoors and outside.  This text is useful to practitioners, from architects to ergonomists, and includes a model linking thermal conditions and human performance.

Ken Parsons.  2020.  Human Thermal Comfort.  Taylor & Francis; Boca Raton, FL.

The Center for the Built Environment at the University of California, Berkeley has presented its 2020 Livable Building Award to the renovation and expansion of Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco.   The award “recognizes buildings that demonstrate ‘livability’ in terms of occupant satisfaction, sustainability and architectural design. . . . .The award jury, consisting of CBE industry partners, commended the design of the school in terms of its openness to the community, its layered access to views and daylight, and also that the design addressed equity, carbon and resilience. . . . The strategies employed in this renovation may be broadly applicable to older K-12 schools, many of which suffer from low levels of funding and deferred maintenance.” Additional information about the winning project, as well as photographs of it, are available at https://cbe.berkeley.edu/livable-building/lick-wilmerding-high-school/

David Lehrer. 2020. “Modernization of a Mid-Century High School Earns 2020’s Livable Building Award.  Press release, Center for the Built Environment, https://cbe.berkeley.edu/centerline/modernization-of-a-mid-century-high-...

Loder’s book shares useful insights on greening cities.  In her introduction, Loder describes her text: it focuses on “how creatively bringing nature into cities can provide multiple benefits that can help to mitigate many of the urban problems we face. . . . Using new research and case studies on perceptions of small-scale urban greening projects  . . . and comparative case studies of urban greening policies, this book explores how SSUG projects can positively impact our sense of place, health, and creativity while also addressing current gaps and tensions around equity, sustainability, and public perception.  Examination of these case studies not only demonstrates that assumptions about the human relationship to nature can create conflict or missed opportunities for SSUGs, but also highlights some alternative research lenses that can help to develop new methods, interpretations, and design options from this more holistic viewpoint.”

Angela Loder. 2020.  Small-Scale Urban Greening: Creating Places of Health, Creativity, and Ecological Sustainability.  Routledge; New York.

Researchers link feelings of ownership to greater likelihood of helping others.  Jami, Kouchaki, and Gino knew “from previous studies that touching an object increases psychological ownership. . . . Like touch, customization had been shown in previous studies to engender a sense of ownership. . . .  participants [in the Jami, Kouchaki, and Gino study] whose sense of ownership had been activated were more generous than those in the control group. . . . [however] ‘if we think about their [the things we own’s] negative features, we do not see a boost in self-esteem, and as a result, we don’t see a boost in prosocial behavior’ [quote attributed to Jami].. . . Allowing for customization of a service—like selecting from an array of pillows and bedding in a hotel room or seating styles in a movie theater—could activate a consumer’s sense of ownership over a place or experience, and might yield positive effects for everyone, Jami suggests.”  Customization, as discussed here, is consistent with environmental control.

Susie Allen. 2021.  “A Surprising Benefit of Feeling Ownership Over Your Possessions.” Press release, Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, https://insight.kellogg.northwestern.edu/article/ownership-self-esteem-p...

Fokkinga, Desmet, and Hekkert assessed the dimensions of human experience of design.  After collecting data via a series of expert workships the trio identified three levels of user-product interactions “At the base, user-product interaction evokes three types of direct product experience: aesthetic experience, experience of meaning, and emotional experience. The second level describes more indirect and long-term types of impact: on behaviors, attitudes, (general) experiences, and users’ and stakeholders’ knowledge. The third and final level represents the general quality of life and society. . . Visual product appearance typically comes to mind first as a trigger of meaning, but meanings also arise from the sounds a product makes (this car sounds powerful), its tactile properties (this phone feels sturdy), or the product behavior (this ticket machine is being rude). . . . Product aesthetics concerns the extent to which the product gratifies (or offends) the human sensory systems, including our brain. . . . product emotions are subjective because they do not only depend on product features, but also on the individual’s personal needs, goals, values, and abilities.”    Full details on this framework are available without charge at the web address noted below. 

Steven Fokkinga, Pieter Desmet, and Paul Hekkert.  2020. “Impact-Centered Design: Introducing an Integrated Framework of the Psychological and Behavioral Effects of Design.”  International Journal of Design, vol. 14, no. 3, http://www.ijdesign.org/index.php/IJDesign/article/view/3869/927

Rosenthal and colleagues studied how color is experienced in the brain.  They report that they used “multivariate analyses of measurements of brain activity obtained with magnetoencephalography to reverse-engineer a geometry of the neural representation of color space. . . . We evaluate the approach by relating the results to universal patterns in color naming. . . . prominent patterns of color naming could be accounted for by the decoding results: the greater precision in naming warm colors compared to cool colors.”

Isabelle Rosenthal, Shridhar Singh, Katherine Hermann, Dimitrios Pantazis, and Bevil Conway.  2021.  “Color Space Geometry Uncovered with Magnetoencephalography.”  Current Biology, vol. 31, no. 3, pp. 515-526, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.10.062

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