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McFarlane and colleagues have investigated, via an online survey, the sorts of sounds that alarms to wake people up can make and the repercussions of awakening to various sounds. Their findings are generally relevant to people working on creating sounds that alert listeners.  The McFarlane-lead team reports that “Sleep inertia is a potentially dangerous reduction in human alertness and occurs 0–4 hours after waking. . . .  The goal of this research is to understand how a particular sound or music chosen to assist waking may counteract sleep inertia. . . .  Our results did not return any significant association between sleep inertia and the reported waking sound type, nor the subject’s feeling towards their sound. However, the analysis did reveal that a sound which is ranked as melodic by participants shows a significant relationship to reports of reductions in perceived sleep inertia, and in contrast, sound rated as neutral (neither unmelodic nor melodic) returns a significant relationship to the reports of increases in perceived sleep inertia. Additionally, our secondary analysis revealed that a sound rated as melodic is considered to be more rhythmic than a melodically neutral interpretation.”  Sleep inertia could be described as grogginess.

Stuart McFarlane, Jair Garcia, Darrin Verhagen, and Adrian Dyer.  2020.  “Alarm Tones, Music and Their Elements:  Analysis of Reported Waking Sounds to Counteract Sleep Inertia.”  PLoS ONE, vo. 15, no. 1,

People in virtual reality environments regularly teleport from place to place and a team lead by Cherep studied how those movements should take place.  The researchers report that “When teleporting, the user positions a marker in the virtual environment and is instantly transported without any self-motion cues. . . . [for the Cherep-lead study] Locomotion was accomplished via walking or 2 common implementations of the teleporting interface distinguished by the concordance between movement of the body and movement through the virtual environment. In the partially concordant teleporting interface, participants teleported to translate (change position) but turned the body to rotate. In the discordant teleporting interface, participants teleported to translate and rotate. . . . discordant teleporting produced larger errors than partially concordant teleporting which produced larger errors than walking, reflecting the importance of translational and rotational self-motion cues. Furthermore, geometric boundaries (room walls or a fence) were necessary to mitigate [diminish] the spatial cognitive costs associated with teleporting, and landmarks were helpful only in the context of a geometric boundary.”

Lucia Cherep, Alex Lim, Jonathan Kelly, Devi Acharya, Alfredo Velasco, Emanuel Bustamante, Alec Ostrander, and Stephen Gilbert. “Spatial Cognitive Implications of Teleporting Through Virtual Environments.”  Journal of Experimental Psychology:  Applied,

Meneghetti lead a team that tied wayfinding strategies to personality; these findings are especially useful when the personality profile of probable space users is available. The researchers “examine[d] the relationship between people’s self-reported wayfinding inclinations, their preference for certain navigation aids (maps vs. GPS vs. verbal directions), and their personality traits. . . . . Conscientiousness and Openness were correlated with a preference for map use, and Agreeableness with a preference for verbal directions.”  Additional information on conscientiousness, openness, and agreeableness is available here:

Chiara Meneghetti, Francesco Grimaldi, Massimo Nucci, and Francesca Pazzaglia. 2020.  “Positive and Negative Wayfinding Inclinations, Choice of Navigation Aids, and How They Relate to Personality Traits.”  Journal of Individual Differences, vol. 41, no. 1, pp. 45-52,

Kaaronen  and Strelkovskii investigated how design can encourage sustainable behavior.  Their study probed how “changes in opportunities to behave sustainably – such as increases in the number of bicycle lanes in a city – affect the adoption of sustainable behaviors like cycling. The researchers used Copenhagen, a city known for its well-developed cycling culture, as a case study. The model was empirically validated by modeling the evolution of cycling and driving patterns in the city.The results show that even linear increases in opportunities for pro-environmental behaviors – in Copenhagen’s case, adding more bicycle friendly infrastructure – can have much larger effects on the adoption of sustainable behaviors than often assumed. This is because when the environment makes it easier for someone to adopt a certain behavior, this not only has an effect on the individual’s own habits, but the behavior can also be copied and learned by others.”

“Increasing Opportunities for Sustainable Behavior.”  2020. Press release, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis,

Recent research indicates that even fonts may have political associations.  Haenschen and Tamul learned that “individuals perceive fonts to have liberal or conservative leanings. The more people view a font as aligned with their ideology, the more they favor it.  Fonts that fall under the serif category — ones festooned with a small line or stroke — are viewed as more conservative than fonts in the sans serif group, though differences exist within font families.”  Typefaces studied by the researchers included serif ones (Times New Roman  and Jubilat) and some that were sans serif (Gill Sans and Century Gothic).

“Votes May Perceive Fonts in Campaign Communications to Have Liberal or Conservative Leanings.”  2020 Press release, Virginia Tech,

Furhapper and colleagues investigated the experience of living in newly-built timber homes.  They conducted a “study [that] included a comparison of the construction types timber-frame (TF) and solid wood (SF), in addition two different ventilation types, controlled vs. window ventilation. . . The emission progression of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including formaldehyde, was recorded and compared with the subjective well-being of the residents . . . VOC-emissions were initially elevated regardless of construction and ventilation type. However, after a period of up to 8 months emissions mostly decreased to an average level. . . .  The use of controlled ventilation systems resulted in lower VOC-concentrations and thus in higher IAQ compared to window ventilation. From a toxicological point of view the major part of the investigated houses were unobtrusive and IAQ was considered as ‘high’ or ‘satisfactory.’ Residents were continuously very satisfied with their health and quality of life. This perception was confirmed by the results gained from the accompanying medical examinations.”

Christina Furhapper, Elisabeth Habla, Daniel Stratev, Martin Weigl, and Karl Dobianer.  2020. “Living Conditions in Timber Homes:  Emission Trends and Indoor Air Quality.”  Frontiers in Built Environment,

Only a few designers actually develop camouflage, but learning more about camouflage generally has the potential to be handy in a number of situations/settings.  Smart, Cuthill and Scott-Samuel report in a study (done with human participants) published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B that “movement doesn't always break camouflage and if an animal needs to move, animals that are unpatterned and use short, fast movements are less likely to be located by predators. . . . Ioan Smart . . .  lead author, said: ‘Our research has shown. . . . Localisation can be reduced, if the moving target is unpatterned, has the mean brightness of the background, it does not use a startle display before moving, and uses short, fast movements.’” Study participants were “tasked with localising upon a target displayed on peripherally viewed computer screens.”

“Animals Should Use Short, Fast Movements to Avoid Being Located.”  2020.  Press release, University of Bristol,

Gerger and colleagues studied how being exposed to images with more positive or more negative content influences aesthetic assessments.  They “presented emotion primes . . . consisting of either emotional faces or scenes, further subdivided in disgusting, fearful, neutral, or positive emotional content and tested how liking, valence, and arousal ratings of abstract patterns were affected. . . .  primes influenced ratings in an emotion congruent manner in both faces and emotional scenes. Stimuli were rated as more liked and positively valenced after positive primes and less liked/more negatively valenced after fear or disgust primes.”

Gernot Gerger, Matthew Pelowski, and Tomohiro Ishizu.  2019.  “Does Priming Negative Emotions Really Contribute to More Positive Aesthetic Judgments?  A Comparative Study of Emotion Priming Paradigms Using Emotional Faces Versus Emotional Scenes and Multiple Negative Emotions with fEMG.”  Emotion, vo. 19, no. 8, pp. 1396-1413,

Buruck lead a team that linked job control and chronic lower back pain (CLBP). Job control was described as including decision authority and skill discretion; it is reasonable to tie this definition to comfortable levels of control over the physical work environment, choices of where to work, and similar factors.  Buruck and colleagues learned via a literature review and meta-analysis that “CLBP was significantly positively related to workload . . . and significantly negatively related to overall job control . . . decision authority . . .  and two measures of social support. . . .  Our results support employees’ workload, job control, and social support as predictors of CLBP.”  The Baruck group’s findings may also help explain user reports of chronic lower back pain in settings with positive ergonomic conditions.

Gabriele Buruck, Anne Tomaschek, Johannes Wendsche, Elke Ochsmann, and Denise Dorfel.  2019. “Psychosocial Areas of Worklife and Chronic Low Back Pain:  A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.”  BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, vol. 20, no. 480,

Fondren, Swierk, and Putman investigated links between the colors we wear and how animals who see those colors behave;  expanding the Fondren lead team’s findings to colors used among animals generally seems plausible.  The research trio “tested whether human clothing color affects water anole [lizards] (Anolis aquaticus) behavior at a popular ecotourism destination in Costa Rica. . . .We examined whether clothing resembling the primary signaling color (orange) of water anoles increases number of anole sightings and ease of capture. Research teams . . .  search[ed] for anoles wearing one of three shirt treatments: orange, green, or blue. . . . Wearing orange clothing resulted in more sightings and greater capture rates compared with blue or green. A higher proportion of males were captured when wearing orange whereas sex ratios of captured anoles were more equally proportional in the surveys when observers wore green or blue. . . . colors ‘displayed’ by perceived predators (i.e., humans) alter antipredator behaviors in water anoles. Clothing choice could have unintended impacts on wildlife, and wearing colors resembling the sexually selected signaling color might enhance tolerance toward humans.”

Andrea Fondren, Lindsey Swierk, and Breanna Putman.  “Clothing Color Mediates Lizard Responses to Humans in a Tropical Forest.”  Biotropica, in press,


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