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Putrino, Ripp, Herrera, Cortes, Kellner, Rizk, and Dams-O’Connor studied the effects of space design on healthcare workers’ moods. They report that after a neuroscience lab was redesigned as a healthcare staff relaxation area “Frontline healthcare workers were invited to book 15-min experiences in the Recharge Room before, during or after their shifts, where they were exposed to the immersive, multisensory experience. . . users . . . completed a short survey about their experience. . . . After a single 15-min experience in the Recharge Room, the average user-reported stress level was significantly reduced.” The Recharge Room was described by the researchers: there were “multisensory (visual, auditory, and olfactory), nature-inspired experiences. . . . environments include silk imitation plants, projected scenes of soothing natural landscapes, low lighting that is tailored in color to match the projected landscapes, high definition audio recordings of nature sounds paired with relaxing music, and an infusion of essential oils and calming scents using an essential oil diffuser.”
David Putrino, Jonathan Ripp, Joseph Herrera, Mar Cortes, Christopher Kellner, Dahlia Rizk, and Kristen Dams-O’Connor. 2020. “Multisensory, Nature-Inspired Recharge Rooms Yield Short-Term Reductions in Perceived Stress Among Frontline Healthcare Workers.” Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 11, 560833, https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.560833
Stancato and Keltner continue to research the implications of feeling awed. People can be awed by craftsmanship, material use, or other aspects of design. Stancato and Keltner report that “Guided by prior work documenting that awe promotes humility, increases perceptions of uncertainty, and diminishes personal concerns. . . we tested the hypothesis that awe results in reduced conviction about one’s ideological attitudes. . . . participants induced to experience awe, relative to those feeling amusement or in a neutral control condition, expressed less conviction regarding their attitudes toward capital punishment. . . . experiencing awe decreased perceptions of ideological polarization in the U.S. vis-à-vis racial bias in the criminal justice system . . . and reduced desired social distance from those with different viewpoints regarding immigration. . . . These findings indicate that awe may lead to uncertainty and ambivalence regarding one’s attitudes . . . and that this in turn may promote reduced dogmatism and increased perceptions of social cohesion.”
Daniel Stancato and Dacher Keltner. 2021. “Awe, Ideological Conviction and Perceptions of Ideological Opponents.” Emotion, vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 61-72, https://doi.org/10.1037/emo0000665
Cobanoglu, of the University of South Florida, reports on work conducted with Ali, Nanu, Shahtakhtinskaya, and Rahman related to mask wearing during the pandemic and optimal mask colors. It may be possible to apply these findings in additional contexts. The researchers learned via a survey administered to 1,800 Americans during which “respondents visited a restaurant or hotel as a guest, doing so virtually. . . . Results show that customers perceive higher service quality in a restaurant or hotel if employees wear masks, regardless of the color or type of mask. . . . Results show . . . a white mask is perceived the highest, followed by a colorful mask, black mask, blue mask and clear mask. . . . Based on the results of this study, scholars recommend hotel and restaurant employees use a white mask. . . . While many service establishments use clear masks as they believe they show the expressions of the service person, this study shows that customers are not likely to make that same connection and the masks were perceived as significantly less valuable than others.”
Cihan Cobanoglu. 2020. “Do Masks Make a Difference in Customer Perception of Service Quality in Hotels and Restaurants?” https://www.cobanoglu.com/post/do-masks-make-a-difference-in-customer-pe...
Dolese and Kozbelt studied preferences for different sorts of art, among other topics. They report that “Here we develop and analyze results of a survey . . . Comparisons of artists’ and nonartists’ ratings on highly abstract versus representational paintings showed a consistent strong effect for painting type, with representational paintings receiving generally higher ratings on . . . liking by both groups.”
Melissa Dolese and Aaron Kozbelt. “Art as Communication: Fulfilling Gricean Communication Principles Predicts Aesthetic Liking.” Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, in press, https://doi.org/10.1037/aca0000357
Evans continues his important work linking the spaces where children grow up to their later-in-life experiences. He reports that “Child development reflects interactions between personal characteristics and the physical and social environment. . . . In this article, I describe . . . physical-setting characteristics that can influence child development, focusing on environmental stressors such as noise, crowding, and chaos along with structural quality of housing, day care, and schools. Adverse outcomes associated with suboptimal physical settings during childhood include cognitive and socioemotional difficulties along with chronic physiological stress.”
Gary Evans. “The Physical Context of Child Development.” Current Directions in Psychological Science, in press, https://doi.org/10.1177/0963721420980719
Lipovac and Burnard review published research related to looking at wood (physical or virtual indoor interactions with real or imitation wood) and reach the conclusion that “Studies with longer exposure times to wood generally observed improved affective states [moods] and decreased physiological arousal in wooden settings. . . . Current evidence suggests that visual wood exposure may improve certain indicators of human stress. . . . Current research suggests that visual wood exposure could lead to beneficial outcomes, but the evidence is limited. . . . Taken together, the studies reveal a potential for the benefits of wood use in buildings.”
Dean Lipovac and Michael Burnard. “Effects of Visual Exposure to Wood on Human Affective States, Physiological Arousal and Cognitive Performance: A Systematic Review of Randomized Trials.” Indoor and Built Environment, in press, DOI: 10.1177/1420326X20927437
Perez-Urrestarazu and colleagues confirm the psychological value of plants by discussing at-home experiences during the pandemic. The researchers share that they learned via a survey completed by thousands of participants that the presence of “Indoor plants correlated with positive emotional well-being during the COVID-19 confinement. Negative emotions were more frequent in those living in small sized homes with minimal natural light and deprived of plants. Few plants strategically placed indoors and a higher number of plants combined with living walls outdoors are preferred. . . . Having indoor plants was correlated with more positive emotions. . . . A few indoor plants placed in strategic positions were also preferred compared with a high number of plants. By contrast, an increased amount of vegetation accompanied by living walls was preferred for outdoor settings.”
Luis Perez-Urrestarazu, Maria Kaltsidi, Panayiotis Nektarios, Gergios Markakis, Vivian Loges, Katia Perini, Rafael Fernandez-Canero. “Particularities of Having Plants at Home During Confinement Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, in press, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ufug.2020.126919
Marselle and colleagues link more street trees closer to homes to a decreased likelihood that residents will be depressed. The investigators report that they “analysed the association of street tree density and species richness with antidepressant prescribing for 9751 inhabitants of Leipzig, Germany. We examined spatial scale effects of street trees at different distances around participant’s homes, using . . . buffers of 100, 300, 500, and 1000 m. . . . we found a lower rate of antidepressant prescriptions for people living within 100 m of higher density of street trees. . . . Density of street trees at further spatial distances, and species richness of street trees at any distance, were not associated with antidepressant prescriptions. . . . The study suggests that unintentional daily contact to nature through street trees close to the home may reduce the risk of depression, especially for individuals in deprived groups. This has important implications for urban planning and nature-based health interventions in cities.”
Melissa Marselle, Diana Bowler, Jan Watzema, David Eichenberg, Toralf Kirsten and Aletta Bonn. 2020. “Urban Street Tree Biodiversity and Antidepressant Prescriptions.” Scientific Reports, vol. 10, 22445, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-79924-5
Kaufmann-Buhler reports on the life course of open plan offices in America. Her focus is on “the material and technical aspects of the open plan and systems furniture that manifest through its design, production, specification and use. My research draws on information and data from dozens of different open plan of ‘systems’ furniture lines ranging from the major names in the industry such as Herman Miller, Steelcase and Knoll to the lesser known systems by companies like Eppinger, Krueger, Kimball, and Hauserman.” As Bloomsbury shares on the book’s website (https://www.bloomsbury.com/us/open-plan-9781350044739/?utm_source=Adestr...): “Originally inspired by a progressive vision of a working environment without walls or hierarchies, the open plan office has since come to be associated with some of the most dehumanizing and alienating aspects of the modern office. Author Jennifer Kaufmann-Buhler traces the history and evolution of the American open plan from the brightly-colored office landscapes of the 1960s and 1970s to the monochromatic cubicles of the 1980s and 1990s, analyzing it both as a design concept promoted by architects, designers, and furniture manufacturers, and as a real work space inhabited by organizations and used by workers. The thematically structured chapters each focus on an attribute of the open plan to highlight the ideals embedded in the original design concept and the numerous technical, material, spatial, and social problems that emerged as it became a mainstream office design widely used in public and private organizations across the United States.”
Jennifer Kaufmann-Buhler. 2021. Open Plan – A Design History of the American Office. Bloomsbury Visual Arts; New York.
Eilouti presents a system for integrating ergonomics concepts into place-design decisions that reflects many existing best practices: “The process of the ergonomics-driven design includes the following steps:
1. Study and analyze the physical, psychological, and social needs for each expected user.
2. Design each space in the functional program according to its user’s needs.
3. Cluster the individual spaces into zones according to their functional requirements and occupants’ interactions.
4. Based on the initial zoning, model the layout internally into interrelated spaces and externally into balanced and responsive forms.
5. Redesign the enclosure between the generated masses to produce usable exterior spaces.
6. Refine the exterior spaces to complement the building with pleasant outdoor areas.
7. Design the building, its external envelop and landscape, as a context-sensitive entity to fit its urban fabric.
8. Although the sustainable and environmental considerations require addressing from the start of this process, they can be refined and ensured at this stage. This cycle may be repeated as needed.”
Buthayna Eilouti. “A Framework for Integrating Ergonomics Into Architectural Design.” Ergonomics in Design, in press, https://doi.org/10.1177/1064804620983672