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Drew reports on a symposium held at the 2017 meeting of the Association for Psychological Science that focused on how the form of our bodies influences our thoughts. Drew describes work presented by Jessica Witt, a professor at Colorado State University: “People who weigh more tend to perceive a target they must walk to as farther away compared with those who weigh less.”  Amy Cuddy, of the Harvard Business School, discussed her research on body posture and psychological state, sharing that “In aggregate, studies examining the effects of postural feedback on feelings of power [e.g., sitting in a more open position and feeling more powerful] and mental states have shown stronger evidence than those that focus on behavioral and physiological outcomes.”  More open postures are those in which people are less protective of the trunks of their bodies; people sitting in an extended recliner chair are in an open posture; sitting upright with hunched-in shoulders is a closed posture.

Amy Drew.  2017.  “How Our Bodies Do – And Don’t – Shape Our Minds.”  Observer, vol. 30, no. 6, pp. 8, 9, and 28.

Choi, Chang, Lee, and Chang investigated how color can influence assessments.  They found via “experiments and field surveys in the USA and South Korea. . . .  that an anonymous person against a warm color background (vs. neutral and cold color background) is perceived to be one with warmer personality.”  Also, “nurses’ perception of warmth from a hospital’s ambient color affects their favorable judgment of the hospital and intention to take on an extra role.”

Jungsil Choi, Young Chang, Kiliae Lee, and Jae Chang. 2016.  “The Effect of Perceived Warmth on Positive Judgment.”  Journal of Consumer Marketing, vol. 33, no. 4, pp. 235-244.

Typefaces bring different sorts of tastes to mind.  Velasco and his team have found via a study with words written in 3 languages (Spanish, English, and Chinese) and conducted with participants from 3 countries (Columbia, the United Kingdom, and China) that  “People associate tastes and taste words (e.g., “bitter,” “sweet,” etc.) with shape features in predictable ways. . . . rounder typefaces were reliably associated with the word sweet, whereas more angular typefaces were associated with the other tastes in all 3 languages and countries. . . .  Moreover, the results also indicate that all of the participants evaluated the angular typefaces in Spanish and English as more bitter, salty, and sour than the round typefaces in Spanish and English, but this angular/rounded effect was not found with Chinese typefaces. Additionally, the rounder typefaces were evaluated as sweeter than the angular typefaces in all languages and countries.”  These findings are consistent with prior research linking curvier shapes to comfort.

Carlos Velasco, Andy Woods, Xiaoang Wan, Alejandro Salgado-Montejo, Cesar Barnal-Torres, Adrian Cheok, and Charles Spence.  “The Taste of Typefaces in Different Countries and Languages.”  Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, in press.

Urban trees have an important effect on how weather is experienced.  Researchers from the University of British Columbia have found that “Even a single urban tree can help moderate wind speeds and keep pedestrians comfortable as they walk down the street, according to a new . . . study that also found losing a single tree can increase wind pressure on nearby buildings and drive up heating costs. . . . ‘We found that removing all trees can increase wind speed by a factor of two, which would make a noticeable difference to someone walking down the street. For example, a 15 km/h wind speed is pleasant, whereas walking in 30 km/h wind is more challenging,’ said lead author Marco Giometto. . . .Trees also moderated the impact of wind pressure on buildings, particularly when it goes through small gaps in and between buildings. ‘. . .  removing all the trees around buildings drove up the building’s energy consumption by as much as 10 per cent in winter and 15 per cent in summer,’ said Giometto.  . . . even bare trees in the winter months can moderate airflow and wind pressure, contributing to a more comfortable environment.” This study was published in Advances in Water Resources.

“Trees Can Make or Break City Weather.”  2017.  The University of British Columbia, Press release,

Sieben and her team studied crowd management.  Their work verifies the value of installing stanchions connected by ropes (or something similar; called the “corridor setup” by researchers) to funnel crowds through a space.  As the Sieben group details, “an experiment in which a large group of people . . . enters a concert hall through two different spatial barrier structures is analyzed. These two structures correspond to everyday situations such as boarding trains and access to immigration desks.  . . . Participants clearly evaluate the corridor setup more positively than the semicircle setup [people gathered in a naturally occurring semicircular crowd in front of a door]: it is seen as more comfortable, juster and progressing faster. . . . Less inappropriate behavior is observed here.”

Anna Sieben, Jette Schumann, and Armin Seyfried. 2017.  “Collective Phenomena in Crowds—Where Pedestrian Dynamics Need Social Psychology.” PLoS One,

Nielsen and Mullins collected information from hospitalized patients about their preferences for art in healthcare facilities.  The team found that “the presence of coloured visual art in hospitals contributes to health outcomes by improving patients’ wellbeing and satisfaction. . . . . Overall, patients preferred art in brighter colours. . . .  patients experienced more positive memories and emotions if they perceived the colours of the art as brighter. . . . in social interaction [for example, conversations], the art featuring brighter colours was used [for example, talked about] to a higher degree and received more positive reaction to art featuring darker tones.”

Stine Nielsen and Michael Mullins.  2017.  “Breaking out of the Snow Cave – the Significance of Colour in Healthcare Environments.”  In Chris Shaw, John Cooper, and Marc Sansom (eds).  Final Programme Visioning the Future:  Designing for Change in People-Centered Health Systems.  2017.  European Healthcare Design Conference 2017, London, United Kingdom, p. 168.

Two studies presented at the 2017 meeting of the Environmental Design Research Association link more visual contact between health care workers and enhanced employee performance.  Gharaveis and his team found that “with high visibility in emergency departments, teamwork and collaborative communication will be improved, while the frequency of security issues will be reduced. . . . Teamwork involves nurses, support staff, and physicians and affects efficiency and safety.  Hsieh and Cai determined that “physical environments that reduce the ease of access (i.e., physical or visual access) between [clinical] team members are linked with feelings of social isolation, reduced staff-to-staff communications, and reduced perceptions of teamwork. .  . .  an empirical study of three nursing units at the Princeton Medical Center. . . . support the findings from earlier studies that physical and/or visual access between team members are key to care team communication and teamwork.”

Arsalan Gharaveis, Debajyoti Pati, Kirk Hamilton, and Mardelle Shepley.  2017.  “The Impact of Visibility on Teamwork, Collaborative Communication, and Security in Emergency Departments.”  In Jung-Hye Shin, Mimi Narayan, Samuel Dennis (eds.). Voices of Place:  Empower, Engage, Energize; Proceedings of the 48th Annual Conference of the Environmental Design Research Association.  The Environmental Design Research Association, St. Paul, MN, pp. 198-199.

Erin Hsieh and Hui Cai.  2017.  “Designing for Clinician Teamwork:  What Is Decentralization Is [sic] Doing to Your Team? In Jung-Hye Shin, Mimi Narayan, Samuel Dennis (eds.). Voices of Place:  Empower, Engage, Energize; Proceedings of the 48th Annual Conference of the Environmental Design Research Association.  The Environmental Design Research Association, St. Paul, MN, p. 223.

Hadavi linked how people commute to work and their performance once they get to the office.  She found that “the average level of attentional functioning among those who walk to work or school is significantly higher than that of those who drive or use public transportation (bus or train).”  Hadavi’s research has implications for office site selection decisions, for example.

Sara Hadavi. 2017.  “Physical Attributes of the Environment, Travel Mode to Work, and Attentional Functioning.” In Jung-Hye Shin, Mimi Narayan, Samuel Dennis (eds.). Voices of Place:  Empower, Engage, Energize; Proceedings of the 48th Annual Conference of the Environmental Design Research Association.  The Environmental Design Research Association, St. Paul, MN, pp. 183-184.

Newly published research supports studies of relationships between urban green spaces and public health.  Van den Bosch and colleagues report that “We defined the indicator of green space accessibility as a proportion of an urban population living within a certain distance from a green space boundary. We developed a Geographic Information System (GIS)-based method and tested it in three case studies in Malmö, Sweden; Kaunas, Lithuania; and Utrecht, The Netherlands. . . . Based on reviewing the literature and the case studies, a 300 m[eter] maximum linear distance to the boundary of urban green spaces of a minimum size of 1 hectare are recommended as the default options for the indicator. The indicator can serve as a proxy measure for assessing public accessibility to urban green spaces, to provide comparable data across Europe and stimulate policy actions that recognise the importance of green spaces for sustainable public health.”

Matilda van den Bosch, Pierpaolo Mudu, Valdas Uscila, Maria Barrdahl, Alexandra Kulinkina, Brigit Staatsen, Wim Swart, Hanneke Kruize, Ingrida Zurlyte, and Andrey Egorov.  2016.  “Development of an Urban Green Space Indicator and the Public Health Rationale.”  Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, vol. 44, no. 2, pp. 159-167.

Recent research confirms that colder objects seem heavier than ones at a neutral temperature.  Dunn and his team share that “It has long been known that a . . . cooled stimulus is perceived as heavier than the same object at a neutral temperature—termed Weber's Phenomenon (WP). In the current study, we re-examined this phenomenon. . . .  In normal condition, when the same forces were applied [when items weighed the same amount], all subjects displayed a clear preference for the cooled tactile stimulus as being heavier than the tactile-only stimulus. . . . WP was found to be a robust tactile–thermal interaction.”

James Dunn, David Mahns, and Saad Nagi.  2017.  “Why Does a Cooled Object Feel Heavier?  Psychophysical Investigations Into the Weber’s Phenomenon.”  BMC Neuroscience, vol. 18, article 4.


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