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Recently completed research confirms that humans are indeed fascinating creatures and that their sensory systems work in intriguing ways.  Murugesu states that “The olfactory bulb, a structure at the very front of the brain, plays a vital role in our ability to smell. Or, at least, so we thought. A research team has now discovered a handful of women who have a perfectly normal sense of smell but who seem to lack olfactory bulbs – completely altering our long-held views about smell.”  The study reporting these findings is published in Neuron and written by Weiss, Soroka, Gorodisky, Shushan, Snitz, Weissgross, Furman-Haran, Dhollander, and Sobel.

Jason Murugesu.  2019. “Some Women Lack Odour-Detecting Part of Brain But Still Sense Smells.” New Scientist,

Crede and team evaluated how effective different sorts of landmarks are at helping people find their way through a space.  They define global landmarks as visible throughout a trip while local landmarks can be seen at specific points and not continuously.  Local landmarks are “sequentially visible” while global landmarks are “simultaneously visible.”  The investigators lreport that “our results have direct practical implications for the design of future digital navigation assistance systems that would support survey knowledge acquisition even while a navigator is multi-tasking. . . .  Our results suggest that it is important to emphasize global landmarks dynamically on digital navigation systems to prevent disorientation and support spatial knowledge acquisition.”  

Sascha Crede, Tyler Thrash, Christoph Holscher, and Sara Fabrikant. “The Advantage of Globally Visible Landmarks for Spatial Learning.”  Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press,

A Glaveanu-lead team has studied the implications of working with others or alone on creative and practical thinking.  Their findings have implications for the sorts of spaces (individual/for use by two people/etc.) provided in a variety of settings, for example, and also for managing the design process, for instance.  The researchers report that “the aim of this article is to examine the creative process in the case of individuals and dyads in relation to the originality and practicality of their ideas. . . . [data gathered] suggested that people working together might prefer practical ideas. This preliminary evidence of a possible ‘practicality effect,’ we speculate, has something to do with the fact that practical ideas are easier to communicate and validate when collaborating. As such, creativity is not necessarily hindered by working with other people but takes on a different orientation (i.e., toward the feasible).“

Vlad Glaveanu, Alex Gillespie, and Marciej Kanwowski.  2019. “Are People Working Together Incline Towards Practicality?  A Process Analysis of Creative Ideation in Individuals and Dyads.”  Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 388-401,

Gray and team have linked the perceived presence of different sorts of spirits to particular sorts of spaces—which provides interesting insights into how certain locations are thought about.  The researchers determined that “Evil spirits are perceived to haunt houses and dense forests, whereas good spirits are perceived in expansive locations such as mountaintops.”

Kurt Gray, Stephen Anderson, Cameron Doyle, Neil Hester, Peter Schmitt, Andrew Vonasch, Scott Allison, and Joshua Jackson.  2018. “To Be Immortal, Do Good or Evil.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, vol. 44, no. 6, pp. 868-880,

Weijs-Perree lead a team that investigated how university employees and students use spaces for face-to-face interactions.  They determined via data collected at a building at a Dutch university that “students more often interacted in meeting rooms than teaching staff, and support staff interacted less in eat/drink areas and the hallways than other users. . . . it is important that sufficient meeting rooms and concentration rooms for students are designed, as this user group uses these spaces more often compared to employees, who have more interactions at their workplace. It is also important that the more informal areas (e.g. canteen/café) are also made attractive for employees, so that spontaneous encounters between students and employees and different departments are promoted. . . .the original workplace concept of the . . . building [where data were collected] was based on the ABO [activity-based office] concept. However, in practice, the building is still used in a traditional way (i.e., fixed workplaces) by part of its users (i.e., some of the academic staff).”    

Minou Weijs-Perree, Lorell Buck, Rianne Appel-Meulenbroek, and Theo Arentze.  2019.  “Location Choices of Face-to-Face Interactions in Academic Buildings:  An Experience Sampling Approach.”  Ergonomics, vol. 62, no. 12, pp. 1499-1514,

Maille and colleagues probed product “graspability.”  The team reports that “People like graspable objects more when the objects are located on the dominant-hand side of their body or when the handles point toward their dominant-hand side. However, many products do not have handles or are not graspable (e.g., services, objects hanging on the wall). Can nongraspable products nevertheless benefit from the effects of appealing to viewers’ dominant hands? The present research shows that, yes, consumers respond more positively to nongraspable products if a haptic cue (an object that is graspable or suggestive of hand action) is located within the same visual field as the target and is positioned to appeal to the viewer’s dominant hand. This result is driven by the creation and transfer of perceived ownership from cue to target.”

Virginie Maille, Maureen Morrin, and Ryann Reynolds-McIlnay.  “On the Other Hand . . . :  Enhancing Promotional Effectiveness with Haptic Cues.” Journal of Marketing Research, in press,

Greer and team studied how music influences humans emotionally.  They report that “Musical features related to dynamics [loudness], register, rhythm, and harmony were found to be particularly helpful in predicting these human [emotional] reactions.”  In other words, particular aspects of music influence how we think and behave in certain ways. Changes in rhythm, loudness, timbre, and the instruments in use (for example, the introduction of a new one), made emotional responses more significant, particularly when the new condition was a significant contrast with the original one.  For example, changes in volume make a piece more emotionally powerful.  Also, it seems that the more instruments in use, the stronger the emotional response to music heard.  Volunteers listed to three pieces of unfamiliar music without lyrics and physiological and other data were collected.  

Timothy Greer, Benjamin Ma, Matthew Sachs, Assal Habibi, and Shrikanth Narayanan.  2019.  “A Multimodal View Into Music’s Effect on Human Neural, Physiological, and Emotional Experience. Proceedings of the 27thACM International Conference on Multimedia.  Nice, France, October 21-25, pp. 167-175, doi: 10.1145/3343031.3350867

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,


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