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Bertamini and Sinico’s work confirms that objects designed with relatively more straight lines produce different psychological impressions than those featuring curvier ones.  The duo learned that “The evidence has confirmed a preference for symmetry, high contrast, and smoothness over asymmetry, low contrast, and angularity [preference for curvature does not appear to depend on perceived regularity, complexity, or familiarity]. . . .  We asked a group of 56 expert designers . . . to draw seven objects on paper and for each provide two versions: a smooth version and an angular version. . . . Next, we presented these stimuli to nonexperts. . . . Smooth shapes were perceived as more beautiful, less heavy, less dangerous, and less symmetrical. . . . preference for smooth curvature of objects was found to be equally strong in males and females.”

Marco Bertamini and Michele Sinico.  “A Study of Objects With Smooth or Sharp Features Created as Line Drawings by Individuals Trained in Design.”  Empirical Studies of the Arts, in press,

Mowrey, Parikh, and Gue investigated links between retail store layout and exposure to products for sale.  They report that “A retail store’s layout affects a shopper’s visual experience and correspondingly the time spent in the store, navigation through the aisles, and allocation of attention and money across departments and categories. We show that alternate rack layouts allow for more of a rack’s facing to appear in the shopper’s visual field. . . . Results for the case of unidirectional shopper travel suggest that racks oriented at 30° from the direction of travel exhibit nearly 250% increase in exposure when compared to 90° racks; for bidirectional traffic, acute orientations [around 30° for the test space] still provide up to 150% higher exposure.” This finding is important because “What is not seen is likely not going to be bought unless it was a planned purchase.. . . Improved exposure means more rack locations may now be seen by shoppers during their typical travel-path without unnecessarily elongating their paths.”

Corinne Mowrey, Pratik Parikh, and Kevin Gue.  2019.  “The Impact of Rack Layout on Visual Experience in a Retail Store.”  INFOR: Information Systems and Operational Research, vol. 57, no. 1, Facility Layout Part II, pp. 75-98,

Researchers are developing a more nuanced understanding of when it is best to use lights of various colors and intensities.  A press release from the University of Manchester reports that “Contrary to common belief, blue light may not be as disruptive to our sleep patterns as originally thought - according to University of Manchester scientists. According to the team, using dim, cooler, lights in the evening and bright warmer lights in the day may be more beneficial to our health. Twilight is both dimmer and bluer than daylight, they say, and the body clock uses both of those features to determine the appropriate times to be asleep and awake. Current technologies designed to limit our evening exposure to blue light, for example by changing the screen colour on mobile devices, may therefore send us mixed messages, they argue. This is because the small changes in brightness they produce are accompanied by colours that more resemble day.”  Study findings are published in Current Biology.

“Researchers Discover When It’s Good to Get the Blues.” 2019.  Press release, the University of Manchester,

Bertramsand colleagues investigated the implications of using a red font for text related to performance reviews; it is likely their findings can be extended to other contexts. The research group shares that “The color red has been shown to affect psychological functioning. In performance settings, it is associated with negative emotions, avoidance motivation, and cognitive restriction. . . . we conducted a web-based experiment in which . . . participants performed an alleged attention test and were then given moderately critical feedback, including hints for improvement. . . . either some of the words within the feedback were presented in red letters or all words were presented in standard black. The participants’ subsequent evaluation of the feedback revealed that using red in the feedback caused the feedback to be perceived as relatively less emotionally positive. There was no direct effect of using a red font in how the feedback was cognitively perceived (i.e., how helpful, fair, or comprehensible it was). . . . red should be used cautiously in critical feedback in order to avoid compromising the functions of feedback.”

Alex Bertrams, Lea Althaus, Tina Boss, Patricia Furrer, Ladina Jegher, Paulina Soszynska, and Vinzenz Tschumi.  “Using Red Font Influences the Emotional Perception of Critical Performance Feedback.” Swiss Journal of Psychology, vol. 79, no. 1, pp. 27-33,

Min and Lee found that surface colors influence memories of places viewed.  As they report that during their study  “Spatial memory was measured in terms of architectural scale and recollection of architectural elements and furniture. Participants . . . viewed a short virtual simulation video of a residential studio and were asked to sketch a map of the architectural elements on distributed grid paper. . . . Contrast and hue had no significant effect on the memorization of proportional scale. However, high‐contrast schemes allowed for a significantly higher recollection of architectural elements than low‐contrast schemes. In comparing the effect of hues, a significant difference was seen in recalling detailed furniture and lighting items. Participants reported significantly better spatial memory of neutral and warm color schemes than of cool color schemes. . . . These results can be applied in the design of color schemes for architectural spaces requiring enhanced spatial cognition and memory.”

Young Min and Soyeon Lee. “Does Interior Color Contrast Enhance Spatial Memory?” Color Research and Application, in press,

How can parking lot lighting help people in those lots at night feel safe?  Bullough, Snyder, and Kiefer investigated this issue, finding that “Previously published research has indicated that perceptions of safety and security under outdoor illumination are correlated with perceptions of scene brightness, which in turn are influenced by the light level in the lot, by the spectral distribution of the illumination, and the uniformity of illumination. . . . two laboratory experiments were conducted using a scale model parking lot scene and a controllable light-emitting diode (LED) lighting system that allowed parametric variations in light level, spectrum and uniformity. From the results, a mathematical model of overall brightness and safety perceptions was developed to predict how different lighting configurations are perceived.”  The model developed is detailed in this article.In brief: “Increasing short-wavelength output to leverage spectral sensitivity for scene brightness perception, and improving uniformity distributions will both increase perceptions of safety, but when a white light source (e.g. LED) is chosen, the magnitude of the spectral effect is relatively small compared to the impact of more uniform illumination.”

J. Bullough, J. Snyder, and K. Kiefer.  “Impacts of Average Illuminance, Spectral Distribution, and Uniformity on Brightness and Safety Perceptions Under Parking Lot Lighting.” Lighting Research and Technology, in press,

Bhattacharjee and Pal studied the implications of spotlighting paintings in dimly lit rooms with light of different colors.  They determined that “the appearance of paintings changes due to different CCTs [correlated color temperatures] of LEDs having the same illuminance. In addition, the result reveals that for both mediums of paintings considered in this study, in comparison to warm white LED and artificial daylight LED, cool white LED has appeared to be more pleasant having moderately warm feelings to the viewers.” The researchers share information about the light directed at paintings: “a warm white (WW) LED (CCT = 2700 K), a cool white (CW) LED (CCT = 3500 K), and an artificial daylight (AD) LED (CCT = 6500 K) with narrow beam angles (10°) were selected. . . . illuminance was set at 100 lx. . . . measurement of illuminance was taken on the center of the vertical plane of the exhibited paintings. The color‐rendering index for all the LEDs was 90.”  Artworks were displayed on a black background and the two mediums of art noted above were water and oil.

Amrita Bhattacharjee and Swati Pal.  “Effect of Color Temperature on Appearance of Paintings Exhibited Under LED Lighting.” Color Research and Application, vol. 44, no. 5, pp. 762-771,

Mentzel and colleagues identified ties between an object’s color and how fast it seems to be moving. They had study participants review “the perceived running speed of 48 videos depicting runners on a treadmill at seven different speed settings. . . . The runners in the video were shown wearing either a red, blue, or gray jersey, gray being used to strengthen the cover story. . . . The results showed a significant color effect for speed; runners depicted in red were perceived as running at higher speeds compared to blue. . . . findings indicate that, in situations in which speed must be judged, red might be perceived as going faster.”

Stijn Mentzel, Linda Schucker, Norbert Hagemann, and Bernd Strauss.  “Perceiving Speed—The Color Can Matter.”  Color Research and Application, vol. 44, no. 6, pp. 957-966,

Kirsch, Pfister, and Kunde studied peripheral vision.  They share that “An object appears smaller in the periphery than in the center of the visual field. In two experiments. . . .[the] outcome suggests that objects appear smaller in the visual periphery not only because of the structural properties of the visual system but also because of a lack of spatial attention.”

Wladimir Kirsch, Roland Pfister, and Wilfried Kunde.  “On Why Objects Appear Smaller in the Visual Periphery.”  Psychological Science, in press,

Recently published research investigated links between green areas near schools (specifically within 500 meters of them) and student levels of ADHD.  Yang and colleagues report that data collected in China about nearly 60,000 children (2 to 17 years old) indicate that “Greenness levels differed substantially across schools and kindergartens. . . . Greater greenness levels were associated with lower odds of ADHD symptoms. . . . Greenness surrounding each child’s school or kindergarten was estimated using 2 satellite image–derived vegetation indexes: the normalized difference vegetation index and the soil-adjusted vegetation index."

Bo-Yi Yang and 16 others. 2019.  “Association Between Greenness Surrounding Schools and Kindergartens and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Children in China.”  JAMA Network Open, vol. 2, no. 12, e1917862, doi:  10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.17862


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