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Redies and colleagues studied the qualities of images to learn which ones are most likely to be present in preferred images.  They determined that “more saturated colors, correlates with positive ratings for valence [which ranged from pleasant to unpleasant]. . . . we obtained evidence from non-linear and linear analyses that affective pictures evoke emotions not only by what they show, but they also differ by how they show.”  

Christoph Redies, Maria Grebenkina, Mahdi Mohseni, Ali Kaduhm, and Christian Dobel. 2020.  “Global Image Properties Predict Ratings of Affective Pictures.”  Frontiers in Psychology,

Perlin and Li confirm that awe is linked to prosocial behavior.  As they report “Awe is an emotional response to stimuli. . . . Curiously, awe has prosocial effects [encourages us to act in ways that benefit other people] despite often being elicited by nonsocial stimuli.”  Awe can be inspired by phenomena that are large/vast, as well as by those that utilize rare materials or exhibit exquisite workmanship, for example.  

Joshua Perlin and Leon Li. 2020.  “Why Does Awe Have Prosocial Effects?  New Perspectives on Awe and the Small Self.”  Perspectives in Psychological Science, vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 291-308,

Loneliness is increasing throughout society and nostalgia can counter the negative effects of feeling lonely;  design decisions can support nostalgia.  Abeyta, Routledge, and Kaslon report that “Loneliness is difficult to overcome, in part because it is associated with negative social cognitions and social motivations. . . . nostalgia, a positive emotional experience that involves reflecting on cherished memories, is a psychological resource that regulates these maladaptive intrapsychic tendencies associated with loneliness. We tested this hypothesis across 4 studies.”

Andrew Abeyta, Clay Routledge, and Samuel Kaslon.  “Combating Loneliness with Nostalgia:  Nostalgic Feelings Attenuate Negative Thoughts and Motivations Associated with Loneliness.”  Frontiers in Psychology, in press, doi: 10.3389/fpsy.2020.01219

Researchers have determined that at-work email interruptions degrade emotional state; it is reasonable to extend their findings to other disruptions experienced.  Pavlidis, Mark, and Gutierrez-Osuna found that “constant interruptions can actually create sadness and fear and eventually, a tense working environment. . .  ‘Individuals who engaged in multitasking appeared significantly sadder than those who did not. Interestingly, sadness tended to mix with a touch of fear in the multitasking cohort,’ Pavlidis said. . . . Negative displayed emotions – especially in open office settings – can have significant consequences on company culture, according to the paper. ‘Emotional contagion can spread in a group or workplace through the influence of conscious or unconscious processes involving emotional states or physiological responses.’"

“Multitasking in the Workplace Can Lead to Negative Emotions.”  2020.  Press release, University of Houston,

Research by Ambrose and colleagues confirms the psychological benefits of gardening and supports the allocation of space to it.  The investigators studied data collected in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area: “five measures of EWB [emotional wellbeing] were computed for each participant for each activity type [while doing that activity]: average net affect, average happiness, average meaningfulness, the frequency of experiencing peak positive emotions (happiness and meaningfulness). Among all three average EWB measures, gardening is among the top 5 out of 15 activities assessed, and, is not statistically different from biking, walking and eating out. All four of these activities fall behind other leisure/recreation activities, which ranks first. . . . Average net affect of gardening was significantly higher for vegetable gardeners (vs ornamental), for low-income gardeners (vs higher income) and for women. . . . household vegetable gardening should be considered amongst other livability investments, such as biking and walking infrastructure, in cities. Additionally, backyard gardening alone may provide EWB benefits similar to the purported EWB benefits of community gardens, thus both should be considered as cities address livability investments.”

Graham Ambrose, Kirti Das, Yingling Fan, and Anu Ramaswami.  2020.  “Is Gardening Associated with Greater Happiness of Urban Residents?  A Multi-Activity, Dynamic Assessment in the Twin-Cities Region, USA.”  Landscape and Urban Planning, vol. 198, no. 103776,

Knight, Agnihotri, Chan, and Hedaoo determined that we can correctly infer a robot’s personality based on the way that it moves.  The team’s work focused on a robot vacuum cleaners and found that with no knowledge of the planned-in, “intended” robot personalities “people can correctly infer a robot’s personality solely by how it moves. . . . study participants also discerned intelligence from robot motion behaviors. . . . robot personality can influence engagement and trust. . . . [researchers] equipped a Neato Botvac vacuum cleaning robot with movement patterns inspired by the personalities of Happy, Sleepy and Grumpy [from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs]. . . . ‘The Happy robot sought people out with smooth motions at moderate speed. The Sleepy robot also sought people out, but with delays and slower accelerations. The Grumpy robot avoided people while using erratic motions and a range of velocities’ [quote attributed to Knight]. . . . participants rated Grumpy as the least polite and least friendly, whereas Happy upheld reputation by being rated the friendliest and smartest. Happy and Sleepy were together deemed most polite, though their rating was just above neutral.”

“Robot Vacuum Cleaner Conveys Seven Dwarf Personalities By Movement Alone.”  2020.  Press release, Oregon State University,

Clements and colleagues studied the implications of having aquariums present in a space, either live or on video. After a literature review they report that “Nineteen studies were included [in their analysis]. Two provided tentative evidence that keeping home aquaria is associated with relaxation. The remaining studies involved novel interactions with fish in home or public aquariums. Outcomes relating to anxiety, relaxation and/or physiological stress were commonly assessed; evidence was mixed with both positive and null [no relationship] findings.  Preliminary support was found for effects on mood, pain, nutritional intake and body weight, but not loneliness.  . . .Review findings suggest that interacting with fish in aquariums has the potential to benefit human well-being, although research on this topic is currently limited.”

Heather Clements, Stephanie Valentin, Nicholas Jenkins, Jean Rankin, Julien Baker, Nancy Fee, Donna Snellgrove, and Katherine Sloman.  2019. “The Effects of Interacting with Fish in Aquariums on Human Health and Well-Being:  A Systematic Review.”  PLoS ONE, vol. 14, no. 7, e0220524,

Xiong, Fan, and Qi studied how well people sleep while staying in hotels; probable guest sleep quality has a significant influence on hotel design decisions.  The researchers determined via a questionnaire distributed to people who had recently spent the night at a hotel that “Assessment of . . . the sleep environment. . . . comprised 12 items, which asked about noise insulation effectiveness, ventilation, bedding (mattress, pillow, etc.), room temperature, light, sleeping state of people in the same room, hotel service level, distance from airport or highway, hotel facilities, color scheme of the room, neighborhood environment, and green space. . . .  hotel characteristics have a positive relationship with sleep experience. . . . hotels need to provide a comfortable sleeping environment and improve service quality. . . . With the development of virtual reality and augmented reality or similar technologies . . . hotels may be able to enhance rooms with the use of digital soundproofing, auto-massage de-stress pillows, and virtual lighting selection.”

Wei Xiong, Fang Fan, and Haiying Qi. 2020.”Effects of Environmental Change on Travelers’ Sleep Health:  Identifying Risk and Protective Factors.”  Frontiers in Psychology,

Guo, Courtney, and Fischer collected information that confirms how interrelated our sensory experiences are.  The team found that “physical properties are not always readily observable, and we often must rely on our knowledge of attributes such as weight, hardness, and slipperiness to guide our actions on familiar objects. . . . In a series of four visual search experiments, participants viewed arrays of everyday objects and were tasked with locating a specified object. The target was sometimes differentiated from the distractors based on its hardness, while a host of other visual and semantic attributes were controlled. We found that observers implicitly used the hardness distinction to locate the target more quickly, even though none reported being aware that hardness was relevant. . . .  Our findings show that observers implicitly recruit their knowledge of objects’ physical properties to guide how they attend to and engage with visual scenes.” So, nonvisual aspects of an object influence purely visual searches for it.

Li Guo, Susan Courtney, and Jason Fischer.  “Knowledge of Objects’ Physical Properties Implicitly Guides Attention During Visual Search.”  Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, in press,

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,


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