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Jellema, Annemans, and Heylighen studied the experiences of patients and their relatives and caregivers at cancer care facilities via a series of interviews. They report that their research probes “the roles cancer care facilities play in the well-being of patients, relatives, and care professionals, and identifies spatial aspects contributing to these roles. . . .  Cancer care facilities turn out to play a vital role by containing and mediating the confrontation with cancer. This requires attention for boundaries, routes, and transitions. Moreover, cancer care facilities can support coping by offering experiences of efficiency and normality, and opportunities to distance oneself from features typical of hospitals. . . . Attention should be paid to the sensory qualities and atmosphere at points of entrance. All users would benefit from improved spatial organization, ‘homelike’ qualities in designated spaces, and increased awareness of options to use spaces flexibly while ensuring a sense of spatial stability.”

Pleuntje Jellema, Margo Annemans, and Ann Heylighen.   2020.  “The Role of Cancer Care Facilities in Users’ Well-Being.”  Building Research and Information, vo. 48, no. 3, pp. 254-268, https://doi.org/10.1080/09613218.2019.1620094

Row, Kim, and Nam used a novel approach to design smart cars.  As they report, their “research was based on a petmorphic design approach, which defines design attributes assuming an intelligent device can interact like a pet dog. . . . we present a set of pet-dog behavioral traits (PBT) and their application in enhancing emotional interaction in smart cars. Firstly, using an interview-based explorative study, we identified key pet-dog characteristics that elicit affection in owners and four PBTs that could be used to design smart car interactions: self-expression, empathy, faithfulness and innocence. Secondly, we conducted an online survey-based study to examine how PBTs can be incorporated into smart cars for different scenarios. The results indicated that faithfulness was typically preferred in routine scenarios while traits associated with innocence were less preferred.”

Yea-Kyung Row, Se-Young Kim, and Tek-Jin Nam.  2020.  “Using Pet-Dog Behavior Traits to Enhance the Emotional Experience of In-Car Interaction.” International Journal f Design, vol. 14, no. 1, http://www.ijdesign.org/index.php/IJDesign/article/view/3539

Pachilova and Sailerused Space Syntax to study hospital ward design.  They report that “new research suggests that good face-to-face communication between doctors and nurses crucially impacts the health and safety of patients. . . . [the] Spaces for Communication Index (SCI). . . . assesses communication opportunities. . . . .[NHS wards were] analysed with the Space Syntax method, which investigated the size of visual fields of healthcare workers on everyday movement paths through the ward. Large viewsheds provide good visibility and awareness of the environment. As a result, they accrue more communication opportunities by virtue of the layout. . . . Results showed that the higher the index, the better the quality of care. . . . In terms of design, these results highlight the importance of the openness of spaces that healthcare workers traverse to get from one key area to another.”

Rosica Pachilova and Kerstin Sailer.  2020.  “Providing Care Quality By Design:  A New Measure to Assess Hospital Ward Layouts.”  The Journal of Architecture, vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 186-202, https://doi.org/10.1080/13602365.2020.1733802

Researchers used scents to enhance nurses' at-work experiences.  A team lead by Reven determined that “aromatherapy may reduce nurses’ on-the-job feelings of stress, anxiety, exhaustion and being overwhelmed. . . . In an eight-week study, [Reven] and her colleagues . . . provided aromatherapy patches to 19 nurses who worked at the Infusion Center at the WVU Cancer Institute.   The nurses affixed the patches to the badges they wore on lanyards around their necks. The patches were infused with a citrusy blend of essential oils: lemon, orange, mandarin, pink grapefruit, lemongrass, lime and peppermint. . . . participants wore aromatherapy patches on their ID badges for four-to-eight-hour stretches, on eight separate occasions, while working at the infusion center. . . . The researchers found that participants felt significantly less stressed, anxious, fatigued and overwhelmed after wearing the aromatherapy patches. The levels of anxiety and fatigue they reported fell by 40 percent, and their stress levels and feelings of being overwhelmed decreased by half.”

“Aromatherapy May Reduce Nurses’ Stress, WVU Researcher Suggests.”  2020.  Press release, West Virginia University, https://wvutoday.wvu.edu/stories/2020/05/01/aromatherapy-may-reduce-nurs...

Melumad and Meyer, in an article published in the Journal of Marketing, detail how smart phones influence our willingness to provide personal information about ourselves.  The researchers determined that “people are more willing to reveal personal information about themselves online using their smartphones compared to desktop computers. . . . Melumad explains that ‘Writing on one’s smartphone often lowers the barriers to revealing certain types of sensitive information for two reasons. . . .’ First, one of the most distinguishing features of phones is the small size; something that makes viewing and creating content generally more difficult compared with desktop computers. . . . when writing or responding on a smartphone, a person tends to narrowly focus on completing the task and become less cognizant of external factors that would normally inhibit self-disclosure. . . . The second reason people tend to be more self-disclosing on their phones lies in the feelings of comfort and familiarity people associate with their phones.”   

Matt Weingarden.  “Press Release from the Journal of Marketing:  Why Smartphones Are Digital Truth Serum.”  Press release, Journal of Marketing, https://www.ama.org/2020/04/21/press-release-from-the-journal-of-marketi...

Researchers continue to investigate the effects of carbon dioxide levels on human thinking and behavior.  Karnauskas, Miller, Schapiro have determined that “As the 21st century progresses, rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations will cause urban and indoor levels of the gas to increase, and that may significantly reduce our basic decision-making ability and complex strategic thinking. . . . By the end of the century, people could be exposed to indoor CO2 levels up to 1400 parts per million—more than three times today's outdoor levels and well beyond what humans have ever experienced. . . . Put simply, when we breathe air with high CO2 levels, the CO2 levels in our blood rise, reducing the amount of oxygen that reaches our brains. Studies show that this can increase sleepiness and anxiety, and impair cognitive function. . . . at 1400 ppm, CO2 concentrations may cut our basic decision-making ability by 25 percent, and complex strategic thinking by around 50 percent.”  This study is published in GeoHealth.

“Continued CO2 Emissions Will Impair Cognition.”  2020.  Press release, University of Colorado Boulder, https://cires.colorado.edu/news/continued-co2-emissions-will-impair-cogn...

Spence and Carvalho add to the interesting body of research linking sensory experiences. Via a literature review focused on factors related to drinking coffee they found, for example, that “Those who liked strong coffee tended to drink more under conditions where the ambient lighting was bright (two 500 watt halogen lamps), while those who self-reported preferring weaker coffee drank more under dim conditions instead (one 60-watt incandescent bulb) [Gal, Wheeler, and Shiv 2007]. . . . Knoferle (2012) . . . was able to systematically influence what people said about a cup of Nespressor coffee simply by filtering the sounds made by the coffee machine. . . . When the harsher, higher-pitched sounds of the machine’s operation were accentuated, participants . . . rated the coffee as tasting harsher and/or more bitter.  When the high-frequency components were cut, taste ratings suddenly went up. Specifically, the spectral contents of the sound associated with the operation of the coffee machine were either boosted or cut by 20 dB between frequencies of 2.5 and 6.5 kHz.”  Information on the relationships between sensory experiences is regularly reported in Research Design Connections.

Charles Spence and Fabiana Carvalho.  “The Coffee Drinking Experience:  Product Extrinsic (Atmospheric) Influences on Taste and Choice.”  Food Quality and Preference, in press, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodqual.2019.103803

Estrada-Gonzalez and teammates studied the effects of painting size on museum visitors’ viewing behaviors.  A literature review completed by the team before they began to collect data revealed that “Seidel and Prinz (2018) . . . found that merely altering physical scale of a painting (small vs. large) influenced aesthetic judgment. Participants evaluated larger reproductions more positively, regardless of whether the painting was high in complexity (Picasso’s Three Musicians) or low (Joan Miro’s Blue II).  . . . Clarke et al, (1984) varied the size of projected art images and asked their participants to choose the distance from which either the artworks ‘look best’ or felt the most comfortable. . . . all participants chose to view the larger artworks from a greater distance, regardless of instruction. Moreover, Clarke et al, also found that viewing time increased with the projections size. . . .. in a real art gallery setting, Carbon (2017) confirmed a high positive correlation between the artwork size and viewing distance:  the larger the artwork, the greater the viewing distance observed.”  Estrada-Gonzalez’s team analyzed the behaviors of people looking of 20th-century art and report that relatively larger paintings are more likely to be visited/looked at and that they are looked at for longer periods of time than relatively smaller ones.

Vicente Estrada-Gonzalez, Scott East, Michael Garbutt, and Branka Spehar.  2020. “Viewing Art in Different Contexts.” Frontiers in Psychology, doi:  10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00569

Beier and colleagues researched how culture influences responses to music.  They report on “measure[ing] chill responses, sudden increases in emotional arousal, through self-report and skin conductance measures. Excerpts of Western classical, traditional Chinese, and Hindustani classical music were presented to 3 groups of participants, each familiar with one of these styles. Participants felt a similar number of chills to both familiar and unfamiliar musical styles, but significantly fewer chills to scrambled music, which acted as a control. Acoustic analyses revealed that sudden peaks in loudness, brightness, and roughness were correlated with chills across styles, suggesting that similar acoustic elements induced emotional responses cross-culturally. . . ., this research counters the idea of musical emotional meaning as being entirely generated within cultural conventions and supports the claim that some aspects of the way music conveys emotion may be shared across cultures.”

Eleonora Beier, Petr Janata, Justin Hulbert, and Fernanda Ferreira.  “Do You Chill When I Chill?  A Cross-Cultural Study of Strong Emotional Responses to Music.”  Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, in press, https://doi.org/10.1037/aca0000310

A recent article in Current Biology details why social distancing is so difficult for humans.  Deroy, Frith, and Dezecache report that “people instinctively tend to huddle together when faced with an acute danger – in other words, they actively seek closer social contacts. . . .  threatening situations make us even more cooperative and more likely to be socially supportive than we usually are. . . .  The demands now being made by governments to self-isolate and follow social distancing guidelines are fundamentally at odd with our social instincts, and therefore represent a serious challenge for most people. . . . because social distancing stands in opposition to our natural reaction to impending hazards, our social inclinations – rather than antisocial reactions to rationally recognized threats – now risk exacerbating the danger.”

“The Downside of Social Distancing.”  2020. Press release, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat Munchen, https://www.en.uni-muenchen.de/news/newsarchiv/2020/deroy_socialdistanci...

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